Afghanistan’s presidential candidates have officially launched their campaigns and candidates are vowing to protect and advance women’s rights in the hope of winning women’s votes.

During their public gatherings, two front runners Mr. Ghani and Mr. Abdullah promised to advance the status of women and girls in Afghanistan and that they will include women in all peace negotiations with the Taliban. Both candidates spoke in Kabul on Monday about the importance of women in Afghanistan’s future. Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah proclaimed boldly that “women in Afghanistan should be given a role in the peace process.” In conjunction, Presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani swore  that he “will establish a women’s council which will have similar authorities to the National Security Council if [he] gets re-elected.” He continued his statements by saying that “we will support women empowerment through domestic resources, not through foreign charity.” Both candidates have demonstrated their allegiance to advancing women’s rights in the past, and many of the women who attended these gatherings feel confident in plans proposed to keep Afghani Women at the negation table. Prominent women’s rights activist Arifa Paikan stated at the gathering “On behalf of women in this hall, I call for a large presence of women in future government and in the election.”

The Afghan people have the opportunity to elect a pro-women’s rights candidate come September 28th. There are 18 individuals competing to become the president of Afghanistan and six of them have launched their campaigns at the end of July.

Elections in Afghanistan are one of the major success stories to come out of the international involvement in Afghanistan for the past 18 years. People risk their lives to cast their votes in some of the most insecure areas of the country. Women, once excluded from a decision making process, are now one of the most important voices in the elections.

The UN, EU, US, and other international allies have backed elections since the beginning of their involvement in Afghanistan. The UN continues to be one of the major supporters of the process. Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto said that “there are 43 international and 134 national election support project experts from the United Nations working in the Independent Elections Commission (IEC) of Afghanistan and the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) as well as advisers in all provinces and these people provide technical assistance and advice.” IEC chief Hawa Alam Nuristani also said that “the leadership of the independent election commission has done its best to ensure transparency of the election by considering the principles of fairness, transparency, and safety of the process without considering any pressure from anyone.”

 

Media Resources: Reuters 3/20/19; Tolo News 8/5/19

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