Friday, December 14, 2012

(S)Heros: Afghanistani Women in Parliament

            Despite there being rigid quotas that require women to make up at least 25% of parliament in Afghanistan, women do not have the opportunity to fully represent the constituents they are elected to represent. While the 68 seats reserved for women have been filled every election that the quota has been in place, women are still discriminated against and treated horribly by the other members and leaders of parliament. In fairness, many members simply fear the wrath of the Taliban, which has attempted to assassinate powerful female representatives. But there are signs of progress as women like Najia Zewari have been selected to sit on the High Peace Council, which deals with peace negotiations, and there has been no backlash yet from the Taliban, suggesting that they have accepted her membership on that committee.
            Unfortunately however, women still face many everyday challenges in parliament. Sometimes in order to be heard, they have to physically pull the microphone away from the MP, who ignores their turns to speak. Women in parliament in Afghanistan also face violence and intimidation daily. But on the bright side, due to the hard work of its female politicians, Afghanistan was one of the first countries with quota laws that has elected a woman outside of the quota. This is a monumental achievement that demonstrates that women in Afghanistan may one day be able to represent their constituents with far less pushback from those who adhere to strict cultural and social norms.


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