Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, July 10th, 2020

Women: From Silent Majority to Active Majority


Women: From Silent Majority to Active Majority

Almost ten year ago, the former president of Afghanistan, Hamid karzai, said “the silent majority has become active majority.” He said this because, at first round of the presidential elections, he won the election mainly by female votes; in fact, he wanted to appreciate and thank the women but indirectly it could express the deplorable condition of women at that time. Most men were not ready to allow their wives to take part in social activities, but due to reaching privilege and power allowed them to vote for favorite candidate of their men. It was the first experience for Afghan women who were not literate even they could not recognize the election signs and could not read name and slogans of the candidates. Their choice was not based on political understanding, but it was on the basis of obedience and satisfaction of their men. They neither were aware of their rights and nor were able to understand its impact on their future.  For this reason, their votes were used in favor of men and did not make much difference to the status of women after those elections.
Now, after nearly two decades that they have much experience from the past years, women are no longer compelled to voting for men or in favor of men, they vote for the future of their sons, daughters and country. Fortunately, the political changes and upgrade of literacy level made them able to know their rights and understand the meaning of voting and elections. Previously, the candidates were easily able to deceive them with alluring promises or with offering a little gift such as a veil or a packet of chocolate, but in the current situation, the candidates need to have specific goals and programs to attract women votes. However, there may always be some uncommitted men or women who knowingly or unknowingly trapped by money.
With presence in social and political arena, women have stabilized their positions in election campaign, peace talks, civil society, economic activities, scientific works, cultural and other activities. Meanwhile, the government and non-government leaders also understand effectiveness and efficiency of women in the country. In the current atmosphere of country as the presidential election campaign became highly competitive women can play determining role in this competition. Each Afghan woman’s decision and vote can be effective because most women are free and independent in exercising their inalienable right to choose their candidate and this is actually a great achievement for women and men of the country.
When it is said that elections are one of the most important features of a democratic system and it is based on the will of the people, women certainly include them and have the same status and social identity as men of the society and have the right to select and be elected. In election process, women can participate in several levels such as leadership, management, membership in election teams and as voters; in Election Day, they are free and independent to use and choose their own candidate. So, there is no religious and legal limitations for women to prohibit their role for the future of their country and their family.
Women have sufficient managerial and leadership skills and abilities that can play effective role in management and leadership of the electoral process in the country. Fortunately, despite so many challenges they are taking parts in different levels of leaderships and management, but there are other barring factors which affect success or failure of women leadership in implementation of the electoral process. For example, from the beginning election process, including the official launch of election campaigns, identification and completion of polling stations throughout the country the security threat was a big concern which could / can challenge the process at any time.
Other issue which always challenges the election and other national decision making is lack of clear statistics in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, we live in a country where has never been an accurate statistics about its population, about eligible voters and about stickered Tazkera (Identity card). In addition, there are many national and foreign interferers who may try interrupting the process in one way or other way.  So, it is difficult for any men or women to produce a clear result from an unclear situation.  
Therefore, everyone in country including political leaders and normal citizens are responsible to support the national process, especially the election which is full of challenges. Election is a great opportunity for the country, especially for women to lay a good foundation for a stronger system based on democratic values, human rights and international norms and standards. It is high time to cross from the ethnic based culture to democratic and meritocratic culture. It is not possible unless everyone believes that any inequalities, including ethnic, racial, linguistic, gender and other social monopolies are destructive. No nation has been able to build an advanced and democratic political system with backward culture and neither we would be able to do so unless crossing from this step.
We should also believe that women comprise half of the population and they cannot be chained at home. They should take part in development and reconstruction process of the country; there are no logical reasons to stop them from social activities except their own weakness pertain to low level of their education. Therefore, it is said if a woman is educated, a generation is educated but if a women is uneducated then a generation will be weak and left uneducated.

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail.com

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