Afghan Elections a Setback for Women

Low female turnout could mean leaders even less responsive to women
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 24, 2009 10:17 AM CDT
Afghan women voters line up to cast their ballots at a mosque made into a polling station in Kabul on Thursday Aug. 20, 2009.   (David Guttenfelder)
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(Newser) – For women, Afghanistan's recent elections appear to have been more of a setback than a step forward. Early reports strongly suggest that voter turnout fell more sharply for women than for men in last week's polls. Election observers blame Taliban attacks, a dearth of female election workers, and the closure of at least 650 polling stations for women.

Some worry the result could be a new government that pays even less attention to women's concerns in a country where cultural conservatism already restricts female participation in public life. "The rockets started coming from the early morning and, until night, the rockets still came," said a woman who didn’t vote. "The government hasn't done anything for women, and there were a lot of security problems. That's why I didn't cast my vote."