Organisation : Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan
Facility : Women & Vote
Country : Afghanistan
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Women and the Vote :
** As the women consist a plenty part of Afghanistan population and according to the Afghanistan constitution, the women have rights to vote as men do.
** Since there are separate polling centers with its female staff, The gender equality in Afghanistan insists the women to vote, as this is their primitive right.
** The IEC consist the provision to the women in order to provide more facilities such as nonobligatory photo on their voting cards during registration, tightening their security checkup by female staff while entering to any of the IEC offices and polling centers etc.
GENDER AT THE IEC :
** The Independent Election Commission is committed to ensuring gender equity in elections and gender mainstreaming in the institution.
** Ensuring women are equal participants in both the election and the institution is the responsibility of each department.
** Overall coordination support is provided by the Gender Unit at IEC headquarters, through various gender officers including in the Public Outreach Department, and through designated ‘gender focal points’ in all IEC provincial offices.
** Due to the high tempo of operations the IEC sustains, current work primarily relates to women as candidates, voters, agents, and staff rather than to gender per se.
** So far, special emphasis has been placed on female staff recruitment and retention, gender disaggregated statistics, lessons learnt on women and elections, and female candidate security.
Key areas of gender work include:
** Enhancing the policies, processes, plans and budgets of the IEC to include women, for instance by increasing reporting on gender issues or supporting increased outreach to ensure women apply for jobs at IEC.
** Action to address inequalities faced by female candidates, such as security during campaigning.
Institution Building :
** Training and capacity building of IEC staff members in gender, gender mainstreaming and gender budgeting.
** Collation and publication of issues relating to women and elections.
** In 2009 this led to a Lessons Learnt Report co-authored with UNIFEM.
** Liaising with stakeholders such as the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, local women’s groups and civil society organizations.
** Advocacy as relates to electoral laws, decrees and other policies.
** Running of educational and information sessions targeted at women, in order to increase their awareness of electoral issues.
Public Outreach :
** Targeting men with messages about women’s rights with regards to political participation.
** Women in Afghanistan face the following challenges to effective political participation, which are taken into consideration by the IEC when planning and budgeting
Strongly male nature of politics :
** Strong male political networks which do not easily allow women to participate equally in most instances.
** Exclusion from mainstream (male) political decision making processes and forums.
** Dependency on men in order to gain acceptance for most of their activities.
Mobility & security issues :
** Opposition to women’s public participation, such as the dissemination of fatwas against women working alongside men or participating equally in public life.
** Targeted threats and attacks on women in public/political life.
** Cultural and logistical barriers to campaigns, either in person or through media.
Female capacity issues :
** General lack of solidarity and cohesion among women.
** High levels of illiteracy and general lack of understanding about political and electoral processes.
** Lack of access to funds to support campaigning and political work.