Last week’s presidential and provincial council elections in Afghanistan saw an incredible turnout of women at the polls. Despite threats from the Taliban hundreds of thousands of women exercised their civil duty and voted to elect President Hamid Karzai’s successor.
Women represented more than one-third of all voters, and their overwhelming presence at women’s polling stations set a significant precedent in the country’s electoral history. In some cases, women’s polling stations ran out of ballots and were required to stay open later to accommodate women voters. Afghanistan’s women and the international community are celebrating the high volume of women who voted.
Women’s representation as candidates in the elections was also high. 323 women politicians campaigned for seats in the provincial councils, and 3 women campaigned for the vice-president.
Afghan women activists have worked tirelessly since the Taliban was ousted in 2001 to restore their civil and political rights. As a result of their efforts, advancements are being made. Women occupy 27 percent of the seats in the country’s Parliament and three cabinet ministers are women.