WASHINGTON – Afghans turned out in strong numbers for the presidential and provincial council elections on April 5, with an estimated 7 million people casting their votes for the candidates of their choice. The presidential election is Afghanistan’s first ever democratic transition of power, with current President Hamid Karzai, the dominant political figure of the past 12 years, unable to run again. However, much more is at stake than a power shift from Karzai to whomever succeeds him; the country’s stability after the pending withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces at the end of 2014, civil liberties and women’s rights all hang in the balance.
As such, Afghan women took their civic duty seriously — according to the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan, 35 percent of the 16 million eligible voters in 2014 were women. That percentage of Afghan women voters might be much higher.
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