KABUL – As the clock is ticking for next week’s presidential elections, three Afghan women are competing as vicep-residential candidates in a bid to preserve some of the few rights granted to women over the past decade.
"I'm persuading women to vote for me so they can recognize they are part of the political power," Habiba Sarabi told Reuters on Monday, March 31.
Sarabi is one of three female vicep-residential candidates in the April 5 poll and the only one on a front-runner's ticket.
The 57-year-old pharmacist and former governor is supporting Zalmay Rassoul, a former foreign minister endorsed by the president's brothers.
She was appointed as Afghanistan's first female governor in 2005.
Joining the political race next week, Sarabi dreams of getting more girls into schools to get better education and serve their community in a better way.
"I used my skill and I was very kind to him so at least I can prove that the daughter can also be very helpful," she said.
"In our society they think that the daughter cannot help us, it is only sons."
During her term as a governor of Bamiyan, a mountainous province renowned for two colossal Buddhas that were carved into in its sandstone cliffs, Sarabi claims to have made notable changes to empower women.
The province now has 21 women police officers, up from zero. Nearly half of the children in school there are girls, she said.
A 150-km paved road was built and the country's first national park set up, she said.
In addition to more than 380,000 army, police and international forces securing the elections, more than 13,000 women will also help with security to boost gender participation.
Afghans are voting for a successor to President Hamid Karzai, who is constitutionally barred from running for another term in office.
The vote is seen as a major test by foreign donors who are hesitant about bankrolling the government after the bulk of NATO troops stationed in Afghanistan withdraw later this year.
Sarabi appeals to young, urban and educated voters concerned about notorious warlords running alongside two other front-runners.
"I will vote for her because she can feel the pain of Afghan women," said 18-year-old student Farana Shahidani.
"There is too much violence against women and it must be stopped."
Away from the capital, few women were expected to participate in the capital from the conservative rural south.
Beyond the fringes of town, women rarely leave the houses and usually only with a male escort.
"There's no way women will vote in the districts. Low education levels are the biggest challenge," Shahida Hussain, a member of the High Peace Council member, the body tasked with overseeing talks with the Taliban.
"Nothing is done. All the money that is arriving in the name of women goes to corruption. So there are no fruitful projects to empower women," Hussain said.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net - Read full article here
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