President needed with ‘good track record on women’s rights’.

Jalal Foundation Urges Afghan Women to Elect a President with a Women’s Agenda and puts forward a 10-point guide.

Among the Presidential candidates who approached you for vote, who has a clear agenda on gender equality and the protection of women’s rights?  And among those who make commitments on women’s rights, is there anyone who holds a decent track record of good performance and delivery?  It is not enough for candidates to have a women’s agenda. They should also reflect a track record on not being anti-women or anti-human rights. They should also have a track record of being able to perform their duties as public officials with competence and integrity.

Jalal Foundation recommends that women come up with a check list of qualities to look for in a Presidential candidate who is likely to promote women’s status and rights.  Part of the checklist could be:

  • no record of violating women’s rights
  • has done something positive to promote women’s status
  • practices gender equality and respect for women’s rights in personal life
  • has no alliance with fundamentalists
  • has clear written agenda to improve women’s rights and status
  • has integrity and is a competent leader

Women should also come up with a ten-point agenda and negotiate that Presidential candidates commit to their implementation. Examples of what may be included in a10-point women’s agenda are:

1.      Issuing of land ownership documents on all lands with no official government document jointly to wives and husbands as shared properties of husbands land owners all over the country;

2.      Implementation of affirmative action policy to attain at least 30 percent representation of women in government entities, especially in high level decision making, including the Cabinet;

3.      Protecting all the gender equality provisions in the present Constitution;

4.      Review and amendment of government policies and laws that are discriminatory to women or in contravention with their rights;

5.      Leading and supporting the afghan civil society towards Afghan women’s empowerment agenda;

6.      Stronger implementation of the National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan (NAPWA), including an annual President’s Status Report on its implementation;

7.      Allocation of a specific percentage of official development assistance for gender equality projects/initiatives, especially for economic empowerment of women;

8.      Enactment of the EVAW Decree with its original provisions intact;

9.      Fostering of national social transformation that honors human dignity of both women and men, rejects violence and tyranny, and reforms institutional teachings and practices towards an inclusive society; and

10.  Improvement of social services (health, education, housing, transportation, income earning opportunities, etc.) for women, especially those who are most disadvantaged.

Jalal Foundation encourages women to rally around candidates who have clear agenda for women and are capable and committed to implement what they promise to do.  Let the women’s agenda roll and find meaning in the lives of embattled women voters.  Women’s vote will make a lot of difference in reducing the many issues that make life a journey of suffering for many Afghan women and girls.