Afghanistan: Struggle for Rights

Images of long lines of Afghan women patiently waiting to cast their votes in last October’s presidential election, and the candidacy of a female doctor for president, seem vividly to symbolise the progress of women since the fall of the Taliban just over three years ago. The images of hope are not wholly misleading.

The World Today Updated 15 October 2020 Published 1 March 2005 3 minute READ

Nisha Varia

Asia's researcher, Women's Rights Division, Human Rights Watch

Large numbers of women participated as voters, poll workers, and civic educators in many parts of the country. However, the real test – for women’s rights, and for Afghanistan itself – lies ahead, with local and parliamentary elections. This time women will run for office in greater numbers, and the rule of local warlords will be at stake as never before.

The parliamentary and local elections, to be held later this year carry a greater risk of violence, vote-buying, and intimidation, with intense jockeying for control over districts and provinces.

Given the slow pace of disarmament and demobilisation and the continued security vacuum, the omens are mixed, at best. From attacks on girls’ schools to death threats, violence against women remains routine.

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