Women brave challenges during polls in southeast
GARDEZ (Pajhwok): Women in southeastern Paktia, Paktika and Khost provinces have to face problems while partaking in elections, shrinking their turnout.
These concerns are being expressed by several individuals and groups at a time when the parliamentary elections should have taken place in the previous two months and the new parliament should have been inaugurated today (June 22) under the Constitution.
But President Ashraf Ghani has extended the parliament term until the parliamentary elections are held and the new parliament inaugurated.
Ihsanullah Hamidi, Free and Fair Election Foundation head for Paktia, told Pajhwok Afghan News women had to brave problems during their participation in elections in Paktia, Paktika and Khost.
He said women’s participation in elections had been low due to lack of awareness and cultural barriers.
He said a fewer number of female workers to perform election duty also impacted women’s turnout as men did not allow their women to be searched by men.
The lack of awareness among women about elections was another main hurdle as women did not know the importance of vote, he said. Additionally, he added, cultural sensitivity and barriers prevented women from casting their votes.
Hamidi proposed the inclusion of elections, their importance as a subject in the educational curriculum so that the new generation avoid elections related problems.
He said civil society, elders, election officials and other departments concerned should jointly work to facilitate people’s participation in elections.
Maulvi Jahad Gul, a religious scholars in Khost, said women constituted half of the country’s populations and life was incomplete without women. Therefore, he said, their participation in politics and decision making was important.
He confirmed women’s participation in elections had been lukewarm due to cultural barriers in Paktia, Khost and Paktika provinces.
Haji Zareen Katawazai, a local elder in Paktika, said several groups were working to increase women’s participation in elections and find solutions to problems they faced.
Hamida Orgonai, a civil society activist in Paktika, said women’s participation in elections had never been seriously taken and security and cultural barriers had restricted their participation in polls.
Recalling the past elections, she said, women workers were present in only four polling stations in Paktika during the previous elections, depriving many females from exercising their right to enfranchise.
Paktia women’s affairs director Nasrin Orykhail told Pajhwok Afghan News she had organised several awareness workshops where religious scholars briefed women about their participation in elections.
Shair Ali Faizi, public awareness official at the Independent Election Commission, said he had asked civil society and other groups to investigate issues and find solution to them in order to increase women’s turnout.
He said all problems women faced during elections would be discussed with the authorities concerned.
Around seven million people participated in the second round of presidential election, with women constituting 38 percent of the voters.
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