AWSF Election Op Ed

The voting is over and reports claim that seven of the 12 million Afghans eligible to cast a vote (58 per cent) did so. Many of them were women and many were voting for the first time.

However, it will take up to six weeks for the results to come in and many fear that this intervening period will be a dangerous one. Despite a massive security exercise during the election several Afghan lives were lost and, in the run up, two Western female correspondents – journalist Kathy Gannon and photographer Anja Niedringhaus  – were shot while reporting election preparations. Niedringhaus died.

No one believed that the elections would be easy or uneventful and the hard work is only just beginning; these are just some of the realities: –

  • There were nearly 28,500 polling centres and smaller polling stations.
  • Afghanistan, with population of 30 million, has 12 million eligible voters but it is believed that as many as 18 million voting cards are in circulation.
  • In 2009 4.6 million people voted – but 1.2 million ballots were rejected as fraudulent.
  • 352,000 Afghan forces were deployed to provide security for the 2014 elections
  • Due to Afghanistan’s difficult terrain, 3,000 donkeys are needed to carry ballots and voting boxes to the country’s most inaccessible areas
  • If a candidate dies before result is announced, new elections will be held within 30 days

We can only wait to see what unfolds over the next few weeks and hope that the many women who turned out to vote will suffer no backlash; that a candidate is selected who honours and respects the rights of Afghanistan’s women and that the fragile gains in education, employment, medical care and political opportunities for woman are not eroded after NATO troops withdraw.

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