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Radio inspires Afghan women to run for office

25 May 2009

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Radio programmes-led outreach campaign by the Salam Watandar service spurs women candidates to run for Afghanistan's provincial elections - 342 women register in one week!

Alarmed by an Independent Election Commission report on May 1 that not a single female candidate had registered for provincial council elections in eight provinces, with the registration deadline just a week later, the Internews-funded radio programming service Salam Watandar quickly produced a number of stories and interviews to highlight the issue.

Dr. Frozan Fana - Afghan Presidential runner
Image credits: Salam Watandar / Dr. Frozan Fana, who registered to run as president in Afghanistan's upcoming elections, answers questions from journalists

In addition, Salam Watandar created an outreach campaign targeting potential female candidates in five key provinces. The message told women that it was their duty to run for provincial council.

The result - On May 9, the IEC announced that a total of 342 women had registered for 124 seats on provincial councils around the country.

“We feel the media plays an extremely important role in Afghanistan’s democratic transition,” said Masood Farivar, the manager of Salam Watandar. “Afghanistan has made great strides in the past eight years towards equal representation of women in politics, but the growing insurgency threatens to undermine their status. Elections are about the future leadership and direction of the country, and we felt it was important to encourage women to take part in that process.”

Marhaba Karimi, a candidate for the Kunar provincial council, said, “Women better understand women’s problems and should be prepared to serve other women. I used to work at the Department of Women’s Affairs. Because the department failed to tackle women’s problems, I decided to run for provincial council. I want to ensure they receive their God-given rights.”

In addition to covering the role of women in the run-up to the presidential and provincial council elections scheduled for August 20, Salam Watandar has taken a lead in covering the historic vote in general. The elections will mark only the second time in Afghanistan’s history that citizens can vote directly for the president and provincial leaders. They are a matter of great concern not just for the IEC but also for the international community supporting Afghanistan’s democratic transition. 

Internews’ projects in Afghanistan are funded by the US Agency for International Development. The Salam Watandar outreach campaign was funded by a grant from the US Embassy.

Source : Internews

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