Thirty eight percent of voters in the last Afghan election were female. They turned up, despite threats of violence, in the hope that the next head of state will make the country a safer and more equal pace for women. Those hopes have been dashed.
Mahbouba Seraj, the founder and director of Organization for Research in Peace and Solidarity, reports on the issue for the Huffington Post…
Where Are the Afghan Women?
Once again the final result of the Afghan presidential election is on hold. The Independent Election Commission (IEC) hit the pause button on its crucial recount of votes cast more than six weeks ago in the second round of the presidential election that will determine the country’s future. While the world waits — now preoccupied with events in Ukraine and Gaza — no one stops to ask: Where are the women of Afghanistan now?
Weren’t we women 38 percent or more of the citizens who turned out, despite threats of violence, to cast a ballot for one of the men who said we could trust him to run the country? We didn’t vote to be ignored once again from the get go, to be completely sidelined and forgotten, but that is what has happened.
But we women of Afghanistan have been shut out, shut down, and silenced by fear of the very men we are asked to vote for and the men who follow them.
Since the year 2000, the U.N. Security Council has passed one resolution after another calling for full participation of women at decision-making levels in all peace-making and nation-building processes. That means a lot more than simply turning out to vote. But we women of Afghanistan have been shut out, shut down, and silenced by fear of the very men we are asked to vote for and the men who follow them.
Witness the event that occurred in Kabul’s Loya Jirga tent after the report that candidate Ashraf Ghani was far ahead in the second round of voting. This event has not been widely reported, though it is actually the most important episode of the whole Afghan election scenario and needs to be told.
The Loya Jirga tent is intended to be the scene of serious and peaceable problem solving. It is the gathering place of Afghan elders according to the old and still practiced custom of this country to deliberate, exchange ideas, resolve rifts and disagreements among the people of this land, a practice that has been going on for centuries, settling many disputes and saving a great many lives. Yet supporters of rival candidate Abdullah Abdullah, numbering about 3,000 men, went to that tent to stage a demonstration. They tore president Karzai’s picture from the wall and stomped on it. They were armed and ready to take over the government. They called for an outright war. This was the rehearsal for a forcible coup d’état such as Afghanistan has suffered before, and it terrified everyone.”