Focus on Afghanistan
Since the fall of Taliban in 2001, the United States has implemented numerous projects for Afghan women to increase women's political participation, build civil society, create economic opportunities, support the education of girls and women, and increase access to health care. Afghanistan has achieved some remarkable milestones to secure women's human rights and civil and social gains. Among the significant achievements were the drafting of the Constitution, ratified on January 4, 2004, the successful presidential elections held on October 9, 2004, and the September 18, 2005 elections for Parliament and provincial councils.
Constitutional Loya Jirga and Elections. An Afghan Constitutional Loya Jirga, or Council, approved a new constitution on January 4, 2004 in Kabul. The new constitution affords all citizens of Afghanistan equal rights and duties before the law. The new constitution also reserves 25% of its seats in the lower house and 17% in the upper house of Parliament for women. Of the 500 members at the Constitutional Loya Jirga, 102 were women. Two of the nine members of the Constitutional Drafting Committee and seven of the 35 members of the Constitutional Review Commission were women. More than 200 women participated in the 2002 Emergency Loya Jirga that established the transitional government. Women comprised over 41% of the 10.5 million registered voters for the October 2004 presidential elections, which included a woman candidate. Millions of Afghans, men and women, voted on October 9, 2004 in Afghanistan's first presidential election. In the cities where U.S.-supported women's radio stations operate, the number of women who registered to vote was considerably higher than the national average. The September 18, 2005 elections for provincial councils and the Wolesi Jirga, or lower house of Parliament, were stunning with more than 52% of registered voters voting (43% female). Over 300 female candidates ran for office in these elections where women are guaranteed 25% of the parliamentary seats. The results exceeded expectations, with women candidates filling all of the 68 seats they had been allocated plus an additional 17, who won on their own.