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Southeast communities work to support women’s participation in elections

AT-GARDEZ: Participants at UN-backed events in the southeastern provinces of Paktya and Paktika called on community members to work together to support women’s participation in the upcoming elections, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a statement on Sunday.

In two separate public events held in the provincial capitals of Gardez and Sharana, women’s rights activists, political parties, community leaders and government officials gathered to discuss how more women – the vast majority of whom do not have national identity cards – will participate in the upcoming parliamentary and district council October polls.

Participants shared examples of community efforts that are already taking place, including youth-led grassroots advocacy in several districts and villages aimed at getting women to acquire Tazkiras – national identity cards.

At the event in Sharana, Paktika tribal council head Haji Momen called upon the Afghanistan Central Civil Registration Authority (ACCRA) to accelerate the distribution of Tazkiras to women by deploying mobile teams to the districts and villages.

Momen urged everyone, including tribal elders and religious scholars, to use their influence to make it possible for women to get their Tazkiras. “I have helped sixteen female members of my family and relatives to obtain Tazkiras,” he said, adding that everyone should participate because elections are an opportunity for development.

In Gardez, participants called for the communities to work together to make the upcoming elections inclusive and successful. “We should not miss this opportunity to participate in the elections,” said Nasrin Oryakhil, head of the provincial Women’s Affair Department. “In Paktya, we have a very conservative society, and women cannot do anything without agreement of male family members,” Oryakhil said, appealing to tribal elders and religious scholars to lend their support.

Due to traditional practices that prevent women from being active in public life, few women participated in the past elections, especially in rural and conservative provinces such as Paktika and Paktya. Most women do not have the identity cards essential for accessing basic services and exercising their democratic rights, including being able to register as voters.

Supported by UNAMA field office in Gardez, the public discussions ended with participants recommending mobile centers to distribute national identity cards and involve all community members in sharing information on voter registration.

Similar events are scheduled to take place in the neighboring provinces of Ghazni and Khost, accompanied by a series of radio discussions in all four provinces of the southeastern region.

The United Nations, together with other international organizations, are supporting efforts in Afghanistan’s electoral process, recognizing that the success and the credibility of elections is a collective responsibility of all stakeholders, including political parties, media, civil society and voters, the statement added.

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