"On the election day, I went to vote. I went with my husband ... his sister Naseema, and my babysitter Nafis Gul. ... While I was at the polls there were no other women there besides us," wrote Manizha Naderi, executive director of Women for Afghan Women, on Aug. 20.
Although the August elections may have been a democratic step forward for Afghanistan, they were ultimately a step backward for Afghan women. In a war-ravaged country, where women have few rights, millions of Afghan women were denied their chance to vote in the presidential election.
Gretchen Birkle, who runs a non-profit organization and served as a monitor for Afghanistan's August presidential and provincial council elections, writes that according to Ruqiya Nayel, an Afghan member of parliament from Ghor, "about 40 percent of women were registered to vote, however the final numbers on how many women actually voted are not expected for several days."
According to the New York Times, women voted in higher numbers in the northern region of Afghanistan -- Bamiyan and Kabul -- compared with Taliban-dominated southern areas like Kandahar. From the numbers coming out of these elections it appears that women voted in fewer numbers than in previous elections.
Nahal Toosi and Noor Khan of the Associated Press estimated overall turnout ranged from 40 to 50 percent, down from 70 percent in the last presidential election in 2004.
This should come as no surprise considering the additional obstacles those women voters had to face: In addition to Taliban violence and intimidation that threatened the entire population, including the killing of election officials and threats to any Afghans with ink on their fingers, there were other insurmountable obstacles that contributed specifically to the low turnout among women.
Source: Foreign Policy