Mixed Committee’s Decision on Women’s Reserved Seats in Provincial Councils Elections was Discussed

Women’s Political Rights Advocacy Group held its 17th meeting on Monday 15 July in FEFA to discuss the provision of 25% reserved seats for women in provincial councils elections in the Elections Law, finalize group’s drafted recommendations on the Policy on Duties of Police in Elections and coordinate meeting with the Policy Deputy Minister of Interior Affairs to share the recommendations on the aforementioned policy.
Members of the group expressed their concern over the reduction of 5% from the 25% quota for women in provincial councils’ elections. However, the group appreciated the efforts made by some MPs and Senators to preserve the 20% of the reserved seats despite horrendous attempts to utterly eliminate the quota.
The group reviewed the recommendations on the Policy of Duties on Police in Elections and by inserting appropriate changes, finalized the proposal. The recommendations further push the Ministry of Interior Affairs to carefully consider special measures for women in the policy.

One of the members of the group took responsibility of coordinating meeting with either the Policy Deputy Minister or the Minister himself to share the group’s proposal on the policy of police.

Women’s Political Rights Advocacy Group Press Release on the Enhancement of Women’s Role in Elections

We, as members of the Afghan national assembly, civil society organizations, independent elections commission, Ministry of Women Affairs and representatives of media express our concerns regarding the reduction of 5% from the 25% quota for women in provincial councils’ elections, women’s negligible participation in the voter registration process and the lack of a specific policy on the security of women in elections by the Ministry of Interior Affairs.
It is evident that the newfangled democracy in Afghanistan is facing many challenges, especially in providing ample opportunities to enhance and develop women’s rights. Women’s lack of accessibility to their political rights has caused them not to take part in decision making processes especially in elections. Therefore, Women’s Political Rights Advocacy Group, by proposing dynamic recommendations helps widen women’s effective access to their political rights and enhance women’s role in electoral processes. Recently the group developed a set of recommendations on the voter registration process and the policy on the duties of police in elections, which are briefly described below:

Women Political Rights Advocacy Group Meets the Speaker of Meshrano Jirga

Women political rights advocacy group convened a session on June 11th with speaker of Meshrano Jirga ( Fazel Hadi Muslimyar) to present the proposal of the group on the Elections Law.
The proposal contains a set of recommendations developed by the Advocacy Group on women related clauses of the Law and was presented to media on April 6th, 2013. Despite inexhaustible lobbying at the Wolesi Jirga, the MPs didn’t take any of the recommendations that would help enhance women’s participation in elections into their consideration.

Since the Elections Laws is debated in Mishrano Jirga, the Group didn’t let the chance slip away and referred the proposal to the Senate.
Mr. Muslimyar reviewed the proposal and specifically pointed out the division of electoral constituencies in the elections of Wolesi Jirga and provincial councils and said, “I agree with having a number of constituencies within one province, however in order to maintain the quota system for women each province must act as one single constituency for women”. This recommendation is also included in WPRAG’s proposal.
At the end of the session, Mr. Muslimyar promised to have the proposal of the group reviewed by the Legislative Committee of Meshrano Jirga and urged the head of the Committee, who was also present at the meeting, to consider the proposal while discussing the electoral draft-law. He added, “Meshrano Jirga will try its best to strengthen the role of women in elections by inserting special measures in the Elections Law”.

WPRAG to Discuss the Policy on the Duties of Police in Elections

The advocacy group convened a session on June 25th to discuss the Policy on the Duties of Police in Elections drafted by the Ministry of Interior Affairs.
The policy describes the responsibility of each department of MoI during elections. However, the duties are vaguely explained and while the policy touches upon elections to some extent, it is not focused much on women’s participation in elections. Therefore, after having the policy thoroughly studied, the members of the group developed the following recommendations:
1. A minimum of one female police at female sites during the entire process (voter registration, voting and vote counting);
2. Ensure security for all electoral staff especially women;
3. Ensure security for female civic educators in provinces, districts and villages;
4. Ensure security for all the candidates (male & female) equally;
5. Facilitate female candidates’ accessibility to the most credible and experienced bodyguards;
6. Maintain full security not only in the cities but also in districts and villages;
7. Assign punishment for police working for specific candidates;

Second IEC Coordination Meeting on Gender and Elections

The second coordination meeting on gender and elections was held in IEC in the presence of IEC commissioners and chief electoral officer, civil society organizations, representatives of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, partner embassies and media to discuss women’s significant role in electoral process.
Ms. Rida Azimi an IEC commissioner expressed her concerns over the inadequate participation of women in voter registration process and asked the CSOs to help IEC by encouraging women through public awareness programs. Ziaulhaq Amarkhil, the chief electoral officer of IEC also emphasized on the lack of women’s interest in voter registration process and declared the totally number of registered women 11855 so far, however, optimistically stated that the number has increased by 25% since the beginning of the process.
At the meeting, CSOs explained their public outreach activities in regard to the voter registration process and expressed their concern over the elimination of the provision in E-Law on the 25% quota for women in Provincial and District Councils elections.
FEFA’s representative described the activities done so far by FEFA’s women outreach department and the Women’s Political Rights Advocacy Group which is also facilitated by FEFA and said, “it is unacceptable to have the 25% quota eliminated from the E-Law by Wolesi Jirga for the Provincial and District Councils elections, therefore we need to earnestly advocate at Mishrano Jirga to have this provision included in the Law. The advocacy group met with the speaker of the Senate to share the recommendations on E-Law and the eliminated provision”. She also mentioned a radio round table was held at FEFA by the advocacy group to encourage women to participate at the VR process.
Ms. Farida Nekzad one of the members of the advocacy group explained the recommendations of the group on the VR process and said, “one of the ways to encourage women to register for elections is to have mobile teams go door to door and distribute card to women. This can be very efficient in getting more women registered”.
At the end of the session, IEC appreciated CSOs cooperation in this regard and assured the participants that IEC will take their recommendations and concerns into consideration.


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