This Peace Brief highlights key issues that must be resolved to ensure Afghan women’s continued political participation in the upcoming parliamentary elections on September 18, 2010 and beyond.

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Summary

  • Free and fair elections in Afghanistan are a crucial element of the nation’s future stability. Women, as half the country’s population, are a largely untapped resource in ensuring lasting stability and progress.
  • Positive upward trends in women’s participation must continue. This will require practical measures aimed at structural issues and cultural constraints that remain unresolved from prior elections.
  • Several key issues—including a lack of female polling center staff and observers, and unequal access to campaigning rights and resources—impede women’s political participation.
  • Resolving these key issues—by mobilizing women’s networks, increasing coordination between local Afghan and international organizations, among other measures—will contribute to a more effective and immediate change in the parliamentary elections scheduled for September 18.
  • Involvement of and outreach to women cannot be a last-minute activity, but instead must be an integral aspect of electoral preparations. Involving women from the beginning will ensure that the Independent Election Commission (IEC) takes into account cultural and practical considerations and fosters an increasingly favorable environment for women’s continued political participation.

About this Brief

This Peace Brief highlights key issues that must be resolved to ensure Afghan women’s continued political participation in the upcoming parliamentary elections on September 18, 2010 and beyond. Scott Worden is a senior rule of law adviser at USIP and served as an international commissioner on the Electoral Complaints Commission during the 2009 elections. Nina Sudhakar is research assistant in the Gender and Peacebuilding Initiative. This brief is co-sponsored by USIP’s Centers of Innovation, including the Gender and Peacebuilding Initiative and the Rule of Law program.

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