In the National Conference on Women's Political Participation in Kabul on Wednesday, some female provincial council candidates asserted that insecurity and some so-called traditional and social values are major obstructions that could overshadow their effective contribution in various spheres.
In the conference, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AHIRC) stated that women's political participation in the election process should be extended and problems confronted by women should be tackled.
“The human rights commission wants to know which fields women face major threats and challenges in, so that we can effectively tackle the problems through our site offices in the provinces,” AHIRC spokesman Rafiullah Bedar said.
“Women are threatened either directly or by phone,” provincial council candidate Lailuma Kumisar Zada said.
“Because of security threats, we cannot go to the provinces to discuss our platforms with people,” another candidate Mohsena Qaderi said. "It is a major problem."
Provincial council candidates from at least 23 provinces attended the conference.
Recently, the Taliban issued a statement warning Afghan citizens not to take part in the April presidential and provincial council elections or they could suffer the consequences of militant violence planned to disrupt the process.
The statement is the first explicit threat from the Taliban militancy regarding the 2014 elections. Other than a couple attacks on election officials during the fall voter registration process, the assassination of the Kunduz Independent Election Commissions (IEC) chief in September and a botched attempt on Abdullah Abdullah's life in February, the election preparation process has been surprisingly insulated from ongoing violence around the country.
Foreign troops in Afghanistan are scheduled to leave by the end of 2014 with the end of the NATO combat mission, after which the ASF – currently numbering at around 300,000– will take over full security responsibility of the country. According to NATO and Afghan officials, the ASF have already assumed the bulk of leadership on operations throughout the country.