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EU encourages Afghan women to vote: advisor.

KABUL (Pajhwok): Celebrating International Women's Day in Kabul, the European Union Police Mission in Afghanistan (EUPOL) on Saturday said it was encouraging Afghan women to actively partake in the landmark elections.

The function marking the women's day was attended by a large number of Afghan women, singers and athletes.

Participants said women in Afghanistan continued to face injustices and indiscrimination against them in the patriarchal society.

Emily Winterbotham, the Reconciliation and Reintegration Advisor at the EU Delegation to Afghanistan, said the April 5 elections were crucial to deciding Afghanistan's fate, urging women to actively take part in the democratic exercise.

She said the EU was encouraging Afghan women to participate in the elections and choose their future leader.

She said despite disqualification of the only female from the list of presidential runners, several women remained in the race as running mates.

She said Afghan women contesting the presidential elections as first and second vice presidential candidates sent a strong message that Afghan women had strengthened their position in the country's politics.

Khadija Ghaznavi was the only woman among presidential candidates before she was disqualified by the Independent Election Commission (IEC).

Currently, Habiba Surabi, Kazima Muhaqqiq and Safia Seddique are contesting the elections as running mates of presidential candidates.

"Afghanistan's future stability will ultimately rest on its accountability to all its citizens, and its respect for constitutional, legal and international commitments, including those related to human and women's rights," Winterbotham said.

She said it was important that women's rights did not fall off the table while Afghanistan worked comprehensively toward development and peace.

She reiterated EU's enduring commitment to women and girls in Afghanistan, saying the EU encouraged Afghan women to use their right to choose a future by voting in the presidential elections.

"Empowering women and girls is not just our moral duty; it is a solution to many of the greatest challenges to development and peace: from economic growth to reducing conflict and terrorism, everyone stands to benefit from empowering women," she said.

The EUPOL supports efforts of the Afghan government to recruit women into police and improve working conditions of female staff serving in the force.

EUPOL offers support to the Attorney General's Office to empower female prosecutors and other female legal professionals.

"Effective rule of law can only be established through inclusion of female legal professionals at all levels of government", said Ms Daphne Lodder, the EUPOL Head of Rule and Law component.

Brig Gen. Hekmat Shahi Rasooli, the Head of Gender and Human Rights at the Afghan Ministry of Interior, said in her keynote speech to the guests: "In the last ten years, the government of Afghanistan had many achievement particularly in education, security, and health for women but it's not enough we need to reach out for more developments."

mrh/ma

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Publication:Pajhwok Afghan News (Kabul, Afghanistan)
Geographic Code:9AFGH
Date:Mar 8, 2014
Words:481
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