Ahmadzai, Yasar, Class of 2015 – (Afghanistan)

Practicum Summary:

Women’s Participation in Elections: Why Women don’t Actively Participate in Elections in Helmand

Yasar’s practicum study examines why the participation of women in elections remains low in the Helmand region in southern Afghanistan, particularly in the 2014 election as it was heralded for its high turnout of voters of which 35% overall were women. To explain why this statistic provides an incomplete picture, Yasar conducted interviews with women from different sectors in the Helmand region and later completed statistical analysis of the results for greater comprehension. Yasar found that the reasons for low participation largely stemmed from lack of awareness of the rights and responsibilities of women regarding elections, as well as security concerns for the women travelling to the polling centers, which themselves are an issue as they are sparsely located in regions such as Helmand. Several diverse solutions were presented, ranging from an increased presence of female polling center workers to enhance safety and combat corrupt officials forcing women voters to vote for a particular candidate, to cooperation with respected centers of information such as schools and mosques to educate citizens about this issue. More large scale recommendations are for the Departments of Education, Justice, and Religion to collaborate and take responsibility for awareness and corruption. Yasar moves that addressing these issues being experience by the marginalized members of its society is the way to a sustainable social change in Afghanistan.