Ghor MP Ruqia Nayel visits home district once a year
Despite having no regular meetings with the people from her constituency, she was reelected as an MP from Ghor in the 2010 elections.
Nayel said insecurity is at its peak in Ghor province, most of whose regions are not under government control. Women feel particularly unsafe; they cannot move around the province freely because of the presence of illegal armed groups and government opposition.
Nayel said she had faced no direct threats. But she added there are many political parties and former jihadi organizations active in the province who would not tolerate an influential woman working for the people.
Lt. Col. Alla Dad, a spokesman for the Disarmament of Illegal Armed Groups (DIAG), said that nearly 80% of Ghor is controlled by over 15,000 illegally armed fighters, most of them affiliated with Jamaat-e-Islami and Hezb-e-Islami, some of them independent.
Ghor is a mountainous province in central Afghanistan which lacks paved roads. Heavy winter snow causes frequent road closures, and residents complain of the slow pace of reconstruction in the province.
The province holds six seats in the Wolesi Jirga, two of them allocated to women.
Nayel, 33, was born in the Dahan-e-Sabaqa area of Lal Sarjangal district.
Last year it took her 2 days to reach her home district from Kabul.
She said that Ghor's fundamental problem is the lack of roads linking it to other provinces. As elected MP from the province, she has met with president Karzai to discuss the problem. Up to $40 million has been allocated for Ghor's roads, but construction has yet to begin. Nayel attributes the delay to corruption in the Ministry of Public Works. "Top to bottom, officials recommend their own companies to win contracts," she said.
The Ministry, however, has said that no companies are bidding on the Ghor projects.
Meanwhile, construction has yet to begin on a ring road that would link several provinces, including Ghor. Public Works Minister Abdul Qudoos Hamidi told the Wolesi Jirga that the Ministry was unable to spend 46 percent of its development budget in the last solar year because of lack of security, unqualified companies, and the Ministry not receiving money that had been pledged.
Ahmad Shah Waheed, deputy minister of finance in the Public Works Ministry, said that the projects would begin in October 2011.
Nayel claims no membership in any party, but she is a member of the new Sada-e-Adalat parliamentary group, which was formed on July 16. The officially announced aims of the group are to promote national unity and pressure the government to support democracy and freedom of expression. The group, headed by Ghazni MP Abdul Habib Andiwal, has 23 members.
Nayel believes that people elected her in the first Parliamentary election because of her work in different social organizations.
She said she had spent only 250,000 Afghanis on her first campaign. Her reelection campaign, however, cost four times as much, she said, some of it provided by her brother and some friends.
Nayel attended high school in Kabul and is currently in her last year of studying political science and international relations at Kateb Private University. She reads widely on law and has studied the works of female leaders such as Indira Ghandi and Benazir Bhutto.
Before serving as an MP, Nael worked for eight years as a nurse’s aide in the Lal Sarjangal district. She also spent a year teaching literacy with Oxfam International in the district.In 1998, she joined the Association for the Defense of Women's Rights (ADWR) and served as its deputy chairperson for a few years.
She now sees discrimination against the female MPs in the Wolesi Jirga. Nayel claims that the administrative board of the Parliament gives more chances of speaking to the influential male MPs and leaders than to the female lawmakers.
Nayel married a relative a year ago. He works for the government, and the two live in a rented house in Kabul and have no children.
She enjoys watching football and is a fan of the Spanish Real Madrid. She also plays volleyball with her family members, but only at home.
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