More Afghan Women Registering to Vote; Registration Remains Low

A United Nations spokesperson has reported that the number of women registering for Afghanistan’s upcoming elections has increased in the last two weeks. However, overall registration is still low as Afghan women only make up 29 percent of the 1.7 million Afghans who are registered to vote, reports UN Wire.

The UN stated that women from the conservative southern and eastern parts of Afghanistan are registering in greater numbers due to public education projects and the recent encouragement from tribal and religious leaders. Female representation has increased from 20 percent to 34 percent of the registered voters in Jalalabad and from 15 percent to 25 percent in Kandahar. According to the Associated Press, the UN and the Afghan government will be launching a registration drive next month in the provinces where warlords and insecurity pose challenges for the upcoming elections.

Poor security has not only delayed voter registration, but the Afghan election itself. The first post-Taliban elections that were to take place in June were postponed until September due the lack of security. Despite the dire security situation in Afghanistan, peacekeeping forces in Afghanistan remain a small contingent of some 5,500 soldiers. Women’s rights advocates argue that without security, women in Afghanistan will never be able to obtain their rights and the country will never have sustained peace and democracy.

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UN Wire 4/5/04; Associated Press 4/1/04; Feminist Daily News 3/29/04, 1/16/04

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