Strategies to improve electoral participation the focus of Daikundi symposium
NILI - The active participation of everyone in political decision-making is essential for the country’s stability and development, observed panellists in a UN-backed symposium in the central highlands province of Daikundi.
Community leaders, women’s rights advocates, government representatives and electoral officials met at a symposium, organized by UNAMA’s Bamyan regional office, to strategize on mobilizing communities to participate in the upcoming October elections.
The participants identified helping women acquire identity cards and register to vote as a top priority. “The success of this election depends on all of us,” said Halako Khan Ansari, head of the Independent Electoral Commission in Daikundi, speaking at the event.
Ansari appealed to other participants to play their part in the upcoming elections, which he called the “national duty” of all Afghanistan citizens.
Participants each weighed in on what the group variously described as the collective responsibility of everybody to ensure peaceful, credible, inclusive and successful elections.
“There is no other option but to make these upcoming elections work because the stability of our country depends on it,” said Najiba Sajjadi, a member of Daikundi civil society.
Also among the participants was the head of Daikundi’s Ulema Council, Ahmadi, who committed to working with other religious leaders in the province to encourage community members across the province, especially women, to take part in elections.
There have been concerns nationwide that traditional practices may disenfranchise women from voting. In comparison to men, fewer Afghan women, especially in rural areas, possess an identity card, a document necessary not only for participating in elections, but also for accessing essential services such as in health and education facilities.
In closing the lively one-day forum, participants made several recommendations to increase voter turnout, namely to improve security and mobilize ID-card distribution centres in remote areas.
The United Nations, together with other international organizations, continues to support Afghanistan’s electoral process, maintaining that the success of the elections lies not only with electoral bodies but also with all stakeholders, including political parties, media, civil society and voters.