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Afghan Youth Debates: Women Flock to Register for Polls in Nangarhar

By Zabihullah Ghazi






Successful public awareness programmes held in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar led to a twofold increase in the number of women registering to vote in the April 5 elections.

Anisa Omrani, the head of the women's affairs department in the provincial government, told a March 30 debate that the figures were an encouraging sign.

IWPR held the event in the provincial centre Jalalabad for an audience of female students.

Omrani said more than 400 policewomen had been recruited to conduct security searches of female voters at polling stations in Nangarhar.

“We need to ensure that men have the assurances they need about searches of female family members. That means they will allow women to participate in the elections," she said.

Asma Niazai, a provincial trainer with the Independent Election Commission, said public awareness programmes targeting women had proved successful.

“Before we started these programmes, only 20 per cent of women in Nangarhar had registered to vote," she said. "But since we've taken steps to make people more aware of the election, that figure has jumped to 45 per cent."

Ekhkola, a journalist who like many Afghans only uses one name, argued that many women were now far more confident and knowledgeable about their right to vote.

Zabihullah Ghazi is a student at Nangarhar University and an IWPR trainee.

This report was produced as part of Open Minds: Speaking Up, Reaching Out – Promoting University and Youth Participation in Afghan Elections, an IWPR initiative funded by the US embassy in Kabul.

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