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In a province of 1.5m, only 2 women contesting lower house polls

In a province of 1.5m, only 2 women contesting lower house polls

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Sep 24, 2018 - 14:30

KHOST CITY (Pajhwok): Few womeninfo-icon have been contesting Wolesi Jirgainfo-icon and District Council polls in southeastern Khost province due to cultural problems and lack of awareness regarding women’s participation in elections.

Khost has 12 districts and a 1.5 million population, according to the Central Statistic Organisation (CSO). Peace partially prevails in the province, where the educationinfo-icon sector is comparatively good. But most of women are still unaware of the importance of elections.

This conclusion could be easily drawn from the token participation of women in the election process. Only two females from Khost are in the run for Wolesi Jirga seats while five others contesting the district council polls.

Khost province has four seats for men and one for women in the Wolesi Jirga.

Niamat Bibi, a Provincial Council member, accused the Independent Election Commission (IECinfo-icon) and women affairs department of negligence and said the two institutions had failed to discharge their duty properly.

“Forget about the far-flung areas of Khost; even women living in areas where around polling stations will be established know nothing about elections. If the women affairs ministry and IEC had addressed the issue, there would have been no problem now,” she believed.

Habib Kamran, a resident of Khost and political science student, listed fraud and rigging in the election process as one of the reasons for little interest among women in taking part in election process.

Due to fear of rigging, he has decided not to participate in upcoming polls. He says he will not attach a sticker to his tazkera (national identity card).

Niamat Bibi, 55, said she wanted to contest the Wolesi Jirga election but later changed her mind. Fraud and lack of public awareness plans for women candidates made her to withdraw from the race.

Nadia Bawari, a civil societyinfo-icon activist, called financial problems and administrative corruption two additional reasons for women’s inability to contest Wolesi Jirga and district council elections.

“In the first phase, there is need for spreading awareness regarding support to women candidates and in the second phase an opportunity should be provided for them to contest the polls,” she suggested.

Bawari believed if a proper public awareness programme was launched and people’s mindset changed in support of women’s nomination, more females will come forward and take part in elections.

Sahira Sharif and Najiba Rahmani are the only women who are running for the upcoming Wolesi Jirga elections.

Rahmani referred to multiple issues for women in Pashtuninfo-icon society, where everything needed commitment and struggle. “Men may face problems the way women do, such as security threats being faced by both genders.

“In our society, women are not allowed to work but we, the youth, would struggle against it. Our society needs work from men and women and our brothers should persuade us to work together for the development of the country,” she said.

According to the IEC, 232,084 people have been registered as voters, including 62,050 women, to take part in upcoming parliamentary and district council elections.

Women Affairs Director Malalai Wali then accused the IEC over the lack of awareness issue and added the commission did not spread the awareness drive the way it should carry out.

She said some district officials have responded that due to security issue the public awareness programs could not be conducted.

“The IEC should have conducted the awareness programs because it was their responsibility and on the part of women we have don our work. We held meetings with the districts chiefs and some said that due to security issue people don’t want to take part in polls,” she said.

Meanwhile, Sahibuddin Zadran, IEC head for Khost, rejected the lack of awareness issue regarding election and added all Khost people understood the importance of elections.

He said some media outlets disseminated wrong information regarding the privileges of district council members which broken the hearts of many candidates.

In previous election the IEC office of Khsot had 190 employees but this number declined to 20 in this elections.

nh/mud

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