Canada’s Ambassador to Afghanistan Deborah A. Lyons has said religious scholars have a leading role to play in creating awareness among women about their participation and right to vote in the historic Afghan elections.
In her exclusive interview with Pajhwok Afghan News, she said Afghans had a great respect for religious leaders, who could play a crucial role in ensuring a credible turnout.
With the presidential and provincial council elections coming closer, she stressed women should obtain voter cards without further delay, adding Afghan females should take part in the ballot the way other women of the world did.
“Some women are standing in the provincial council elections, which is a positive sign. I am optimistic the elections will be held in a secure environment,” she said.
The ambassador said although Afghanistan had a patriarchal society, it was a high time for the Afghan women to help make the elections a success.
She said it was the government’s responsibility to ensure female voters were secured and fearless while casting their votes.
“There are 1,300 women serving in the Afghan police force and they should also play a leading role in protecting woman’s polling sites and ensure better security,” she noted.
“Afghan women are empowered now and the days are not far when the country will be protecting their rights in a better way,” she hoped.
Expressing her concerns over increasing violence against women in Afghanistan, the Canadian envoy said: “When a law on women’s rights is not implemented, the situation leads to a surge in violence against them.”
It had been six months since Lyons was appointed as Canada’s Ambassador to Afghanistan and during the period, she had travelled to various provinces, meeting with female officials.
Stressing the importance of women education and training, she suggested increased female enrollment in higher and semi-higher educational institutes.