On September 28, candidates for the Afghan parliament launched their campaigns ahead of the October 20 elections. Of the 2,565 people running, a historic 417 are women. According to data by The World Bank, the number of seats in parliament held by women rose from 4 percent in 1990 to 28 percent in 2017.

The United Nations says that women’s participation in the Afghan electoral process is essential to creating a stronger democracy. The Independent Election Committee (IEC) of Afghanistan has said that they are working to increase the number of women voters, including an initiative to hire a woman to staff each polling place.

The number of women running in this election is thanks in part to Mina’s List, a program that is dedicated to inspiring women around the world to run for office. In Afghanistan, the program’s goal was to empower 40 women to run for office, implementing programs such as mentorships and workshops to help with campaigns and financing.

According to Peace is Loud, the organization that runs Mina’s List, Afghan women are fighting to increase their political participation and representation, but gender discrimination still runs deep. In comparison to their male counterparts, women candidates do not receive as much encouragement from their communities or as much financial support for their campaigns. They also face challenges once they are in office.

In 2017, Masooma Muradi, the former Governor of Daikundi and the sole female governor in Afghanistan at the time, was involuntarily removed from office and replaced by a man after receiving continued opposition due to her gender. Sima Joinda, the former Governor of Ghor province, was also removed from her position less than one year after being appointed because she was the target of numerous gender-based protests.

The Taliban has threatened to target attacks in an effort to stop voter registration and the parliamentary election. Elections. In April, the Taliban killed 57 people in Kabul who were waiting to receive their voter IDs. Locals say Taliban threats twill not deter them from participating in elections.

 

Media Resources: The Washington Post 9/28, 10/8, 4/22; The Sacramento Bee 9/28; The World Bank; The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan 4/3; Peace is Loud 5/8;  Feminist Majority Foundation 10/10

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