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Cablegate: Iec Engages Women Mps

VZCZCXRO7426
PP RUEHPW
DE RUEHBUL #3122 3381313
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 031313Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6309
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS KABUL 003122

SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/FO, SCA/A, S/CRS
NSC FOR JWOOD
OSD FOR MCGRAW
CG CJTF-82, POLAD, JICCENT

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KDEM PGOV AF
SUBJECT: IEC ENGAGES WOMEN MPS

1. With the Embassy and international NGOs as brokers, the
Independent Election Commission held a consultative session
this week with women MPs to discuss how to increase
participation of women in the voter registration process.
Although more than 2.5 million Afghans have registered under
the current process, with registration in many provinces yet
to begin, many female politicians have questioned the IEC's
outreach strategy for women. The three-hour Dec. 2
discussion, attended by more than 10 MPs, IEC Chairman Dr.
Azizullah Ludin, other IEC commissioners and staff, and
several journalists, offered women leaders a chance to
directly engage the IEC's leadership on election issues.

2. MPs Hawa Alam Nooristani (Nuristan, Pashtun) and Rida
Azimi (Parwan, Tajik) asked the IEC to investigate
allegations of women not feeling safe to travel to voter
registration centers. Other MPs expressed concerns that male
family members either prevent women from registering or
register for them. Qadria Yasdanparast (Kabul, Tajik), a
member of the Lower House's women's affairs committee, told
us separately she believes more needs to be done to advertise
a recent decree by mullahs endorsing women's voting rights.
MPs Shukria Barakzai (Kabul, Pashtun) and Fatima Nazari
(Kabul, Hazara) criticized the IEC for delaying its
announcement of an election date, tying the confusion over
the election's timing to possible voter disillusionment.

3. Despite IEC outreach efforts, barriers to full voting
rights for women remain an important issue. Until now, women
leaders have been slow to bring their concerns to the IEC
through proper and effective channels. Strained relations
between the IEC and Parliament have contributed to the poor
communications. However, this week's gathering brought the
IEC closer to the elected representatives of the Afghan
people and provided a proper forum for legislators and
commissioners to share concerns and propose solutions for
making the registration and election processes a success.
IEC Deputy Chief Technical Officer Zekria Barakzai said the
commission would continue its dialogue with women legislators
to address their concerns.
DELL

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