Afghan Women Run for Office

WORLD

Afghanistan goes to the polls on Saturday. Hundreds of women are running for provincial council posts, and a former minister is making history as the first-ever female vice presidential candidate. (Christian Science Monitor)

Use our resources to better understand Afghan culture.

Habiba Sarabi, the first woman vice-presidential candidate in Afghanistan's history, was formerly a governor of the Bamyan province. Here, she meets with U.S. Army Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell, the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan commander, in 2011. Photograph by U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Katie Justen

Habiba Sarabi, the first woman vice-presidential candidate in Afghanistan’s history, was formerly a governor of the Bamyan province. Here, she meets with U.S. Army Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell, the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan commander, in 2011.
Photograph by Senior Airman Katie Justen, courtesy U.S. Air Force

Discussion Ideas

 

  • Sarabi says “I’m sure that [women’s progress] will continue.” Besides increased female representation in government, how else do you think women’s progress can be sought in Afghanistan? (Read “The Taliban, Women, and Human Rights” for some help.)
    • Changing Afghanistan’s traditional conservative culture will probably be more difficult than political progress. High-ranking government officials (including outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai) still support sharia law, which recognizes women as secondary to men, forbids women to travel without a man, and discourages women from associating with men while working or studying.
    • increasing literacy and educational opportunities for all Afghans
    • increasing access to health care for all Afghans
    • increasing the number of women-owned businesses
    • increasing the number of women lawyers and judges
    • expanding representation of women in media
    • eliminating prison sentences for “moral crimes”, including women fleeing abusive marriages or traveling outside their community
    • enforcing laws that already exist, such as guarantees of equal rights and prosecution of violence against women

 

  • In the CSM article, Habiba Sarabi says the office of the vice president is the “third highest position in the country.” What are the top two?
    • Afghanistan has two vice presidents. The president and the first vice-president have greater political power than the second vice-president, the position for which Sarabi is running.

 

  • If Sarabi is elected to office, she will join female political leaders all over the world. What are some countries led by women?
    • North America
      • Laura Chinchilla is the president of Costa Rica
      • Kamla Persad-Bissessar is the prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago
      • Portia Simpson-Miller is the prime minister of Jamaica
    • South America
      • Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is the president of Argentina
      • Dilma Rousseff is president of Brazil
      • Michelle Bachelet is the president of Chile
    • Europe
      • Angela Merkel is chancellor of Germany
      • Dalia Grybauskaite is the president of Lithuania
      • Helle Thorning-Schmidt is the prime minister of Denmark
      • Alenka Bratusek is the prime minister of Slovenia
      • Erna Solberg is the prime minister of Norway
      • Laimdota Straujuma is the prime minister of Latvia
    • Asia
      • Sheikh Hasina is the prime minister of Bangladesh
      • Park Geun-hye is president of South Korea
      • Yingluck Shinawatra is the prime minister of Thailand
    • Africa
      • Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the president of Liberia
      • Joyce Banda is president of Malawi
      • Catherine Samba-Panza is the acting president of the Central African Republic
      • Aminata Toure is the prime minister of Senegal

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