Baghlan youth discuss challenges, way forward to peaceful future

5 Jun 2018

Baghlan youth discuss challenges, way forward to peaceful future

PUL-E-KHUMRI - The active participation of young Afghans in democratic processes is crucial in creating a more stable, inclusive and peaceful country, said panellists during a UN-backed television programme focused on elections in the northeastern province of Baghlan.

The programme, which was broadcast by local media outlet Tanweer TV to an audience estimated at 300,000 people in and around the provincial capital of Pul-e-Khumri, outlined practical ways to empower young Afghans in the country’s political and social life, including by registering to vote in the upcoming elections.

Panellists, including a women’s rights activist along with civil society and youth group representatives, expressed concern that many young Afghans, especially women, have not been fully involved in the country’s democratic processes, and stressed that the upcoming parliamentary and district council elections present an opportunity to select representatives that will carry forward their interests.

“Although there have been positive changes in the life of Afghan women in recent years, it’s not enough,” said panellist Razia Noori, a lawyer and the founder of a local organization working to empower Afghan women at all levels of the country’s social and political life.

“Women have the right to elect and to be elected,” she said. “Our efforts are now focused on mobilizing young women to participate in the upcoming elections, not only as voters, but as candidates and electoral workers.”

Other speakers agreed, and urged other young Afghans to play a leading role in the elections. According to some estimates, three-quarters of the population in Afghanistan is below the age of 30. The panellists noted that young Afghans in Baghlan face significant challenges, including grappling with high levels of illiteracy and unemployment, but stressed that any elections process in the country must be inclusive and must therefore involve young people.

According to international human rights law, everyone has the right to take part in public affairs, to vote and to be elected to government without discrimination and without unreasonable restrictions. All citizens – whether voters, candidates or election-related staff – have the right to be free from fear and intimidation at all stages of an elections process, from voter registration through to the post-election period.

The television programme is part of UNAMA’s country-wide outreach aimed at creating platforms for local communities to engage in dialogue on critical issues, including the upcoming elections. In addition to supporting the television programme, UNAMA’s Kunduz office organized a corresponding roundtable discussion, later broadcast by local outlets Radio Arezo and Radio Payman, that was attended by representatives from civil society, activist groups and electoral officials.

Baghlan, situated in the country’s northeast, connects Afghanistan’s northern and northeastern regions to Kabul through the Salang Pass. The province is ethnically diverse, with most residents living in rural communities and working in agriculture.

UNAMA supports the Afghan people and government to achieve peace and stability. In accordance with its mandate as a political mission, UNAMA backs conflict prevention and resolution, promoting inclusion and social cohesion, as well as strengthening regional cooperation. The Mission supports effective governance, promoting national ownership and accountable institutions that are built on respect for human rights.

UNAMA provides 'good offices' and other key services, including diplomatic steps that draw on the organization’s independence, impartiality and integrity to prevent disputes from arising, escalating or spreading. The Mission coordinates international support for Afghan development and humanitarian priorities.