Saturday, May 13, 2006

Women and Warlords

Women and Warlords: "The presence on the ballot of the usual suspects--especially the commanders who wrecked the country--kept many voters from last September's polls. (The low voter turnout, also attributed to widespread disillusionment with President Hamid Karzai, further dims the democratic credentials of the new Parliament.) But many voters filed a protest vote that produced Parliament's other startling statistic: Better than one in four members of the Wolesi Jirga is a woman.

What made that result possible is a national policy of 'affirmative discrimination,' a quota system endorsed and encouraged by the international community. The Afghan Constitution of 2004 provides that 'from each province on average at least two female delegates shall have membership to the Wolesi Jirga.' That's a total of sixty-eight women, or 27 percent of the lower house, a figure that catapults Afghanistan into the ranks of nations with the highest proportion of female representation. Sweden is number one, with 44 percent, and Afghanistan a respectable number twenty. (The United States, at roughly 15 percent, is a conspicuous disgrace.)"

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