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Afghan Women Protest For Cabinet Posts

Afghan women protest in Kabul to call for representation in the cabinet on February 3.
Afghan women protest in Kabul to call for representation in the cabinet on February 3.

KABUL -- Hundreds of women staged a protest to urge Afghanistan's national unity government to give women representation in the national cabinet.

On February 3, a crowded street in Afghanistan's capital reverberated with women protesters chanting "We want our rights."

Hasina Safi, one of the protest's organizers, told demonstrators that Afghan women want their representation in the government they elected last year.

"Out votes determined the fate of the national unity government. We are now asking it to give us at least 38 percent representation in their cabinet," she said. "We promise that the women's representation will improve transparency, meritocracy and leadership."

Safi's nongovernmental Afghan Women's Network had organized the protest after all three women nominated by President Ashraf Ghani for cabinet slots failed to secure their posts. A parliamentary committee prevented two from appearing in a mandatory confidence vote in the lower house of the Afghan legislature because they held dual citizenship.

The third failed to secure the required majority vote on January 28.

The Afghan Women's Network now wants Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah to nominate at least four women for the 18 top posts the Afghan Parliament is expected to confirm into office in the next few months.

Women activists say the two leaders must honor the commitments they made during their election campaign last year.

Roshan Siran, an Afghan women's rights campaigner, says demonstrators have sent a list of qualified women to the national unity government's leaders to help them nominate qualified women for the vacant cabinet seats.

"If our demands are not met, we will expand our peaceful protests and women will not participate in next year's parliamentary election," she told protesters.

Since the fall of the hardline Taliban regime in 2001, Afghan women have gained employment in nongovernmental organizations and some government departments. Their access to education and healthcare has increased. Under an official quota, almost one-third of Afghan lawmakers are women.

Afghan women, however, still suffer from violence and regressive societal pressures and customs.

Abubakar Siddique wrote this story based on Yousaf Zadran and Farishta Nida's reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan.