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Women turnout in elections discussed

AT-CHARIKAR: Increasing women’s participation in the upcoming elections was the focus of an UN-backed event in Charikar city, the capital of Parwan province.

Led by Parwan Governor Fazulldin Ayar and other senior provincial officials, the event drew participants from Parwan, Kapisa and Panjshir, representing civil society, women’s organizations, media and community leaders.

Together, they discussed measures to improve women’s participation in the upcoming elections, both as candidates and as voters.

Governor Ayar stressed that local authorities are working to ensure necessary facilities and support are accorded to women in the province and beyond, as Afghanistan is scheduled to hold parliamentary elections later in 2018 and presidential elections in 2019.

There has been a general improvement in the participation of women in Afghanistan’s recent elections, particularly in 2014, which saw a 38 per cent female voter turn-out nationally. But many factors continue to undermine women’s participation in elections, including the general security situation along with the long distances they must travel to polling centers, particularly in rural areas.

The United Nations maintains that women’s full participation – as candidates, electoral workers, observers and voters – is a fundamental right, and that enhancing women’s participation in all stages of the electoral process is vital for strengthening democracy.

Key recommendations from participants at the Parwan event included improved security and a nationwide campaign to urge women to acquire national identity cards and to register to vote.

Organized by UNAMA’s central regional office, the event is part of a country-wide outreach initiative aimed at creating platforms for local communities to engage in dialogue on key issues.

UNAMA is mandated to support the Afghan Government and the people of Afghanistan as a political mission that provides ‘good offices’ among other key services. ‘Good offices’ are diplomatic steps UN takes publicly and in private, drawing on its independence, impartiality and integrity, to prevent international disputes from arising, escalating or spreading.

UNAMA also promotes coherent development support by the international community; assists the process of peace and reconciliation; monitors and promotes human rights and the protection of civilians in armed conflict; promotes good governance; and encourages regional cooperation.

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