Struggling Female Parliamentarians
Why is female representation in the parliament such a pressing issue in Afghanistan?
no concept of women’s representation or participation in politics. But the condition of Afghan women has considerably improved after the collapse of the Taliban regime. Now, nearly three million girls attend school and maternal and infant mortality rates have also declined.
Yet, even today, significant gender gaps exist in almost all social and development areas. For instance, in 2012 the percentage of population with at least secondary level of education was 5.8 for women and 34 for men while the employment rate was 15.7 percent for women and 80.3 percent for men. In 2012, the maternal mortality ratio in Afghanistan was 460 per 100,000 live births while the average corresponding figure for South Asia was 203. for women in the upper and lower houses of the parliament in 2012. However, further legislation resulted in the removal of the electoral quota law. This decision received harsh criticism and was later recalled as a result of efforts by female legislators.
The final version of the bill reduced the provincial quota to 20 percent. Even this was met by strong protests by women’s rights groups and the media. Yet, despite the reduced quota, Afghanistan’s ratio of women representation in parliament stays above the South Asian average of 18.5 percent.
Why is female representation in parliament such a pressing issue in the Afghan context?
A 2012 survey conducted by the Aurat Foundation, an NGO that campaigning for women’s rights since the collapse of the Taliban regime. International groups such as Amnesty International have provided extensive guidelines about how to engage in effective activism to promote women’s rights.
In 2012, the 112th Congress of the United States introduced the Afghan Women and Girls Security Promotion Act which required the “Department of Defense to develop a strategy to promote the security of Afghan women and girls during the security transition process”. Sadly, the bill was never enacted.
As involvement of the Taliban in Afghan politics grows, attacks on girl’s schools as well as targeting of female leaders and politicians has increased. Today, a member of the Afghan