Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) disqualified sixteen candidates for presidential elections due on April 5, including the lone female contender Khadija Ghaznawi.
Ghaznawi, an entrepreneur and peace activist, was the only woman among 27 initial candidates running to succeed Hamid Karzai, the current President of Afghanistan. Among many other plans for the militancy-hit Afghan nation, she hoped to create more jobs for her people, as well as the Taliban, who, according to Ghaznawi, were tired of fighting and would lay down their weapons if provided opportunities to work and education for their children.
However, she was booted out of the polls when the IEC, unexpectedly and inexplicably, announced that more than half of the presidential candidates “didn’t meet the job requirements”.
“The elections commission didn’t tell me why,” Ghaznawi told Time. “I haven’t received one phone call… I’m very angry with the decision.”
Khadija Ghaznawi, the sole female candidate in the Afghan presidential race was also disqualified. pic.twitter.com/TY50MEzNd2— Subel (@svbel) October 22, 2013
Ghaznawi’s disqualification is a disappointment. If not a place in the presidency, at least a woman’s candidacy could have signaled progress for the government of Afghanistan, which will take hold of the country’s administration after US forces leave next year.
In an interview to a Pakistani newspaper, The Express Tribune, Ghaznawi said, “To be a woman in Afghanistan is far from easy at the best of times. I haven’t reached this position without much hard work and, I know, I have made many enemies along the way.”
Although some reports claim that women’s rights have increased considerably over the past few years with the current constitution guaranteeing the Afghan women right to political participation, the United Nations suggests the security situation of the country can inhibit progress.
Several cases were cited in the official document. In August, Friba Kakar, a female lawmaker was reportedly taken hostage by terrorists and freed later in exchange for detained militants. Last year, two members of the Department of Women’s Affairs were killed. In 2008, unknown assailants killed prominent policewoman Lieutenant-Colonel Malalai Kakar in Kandahar.
UN Women chief Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka reinforced in an interview to German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle on Monday thatattacks against women and girls in Afghanistan have increased at a “frightening pace.”
“In 2012, female casualties increased by 20 percent in spite of a decrease of overall violence, and this year by 61 percent, according to the UN. When girls attending school, or women leaders in ministries and parliament are attacked it is also the idea of women in public life and occupying leadership roles that is being challenged.”