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Peace X Peace Post-Election Reception
Remarks by Ambassador Said T. Jawad


Embassy of Afghanistan
10/18/2004

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Welcome to the Embassy of Afghanistan.

Afghanistan’s first presidential election was a historic achievement with phenomenal scenes that Afghans will cherish for years to come.

Success in Afghanistan is helping the world become a safer place. Afghanistan’s transition and successful advance on the path to democracy and state-building will impact the expectations and the aspirations of the people all over the world.

Women played a very crucial role in success of the lection. With about 20% of the vote counted so far, the preliminary results show that nationally 41% of voters were women. In Daikundi 53% of voters were women. In Nuristan surprisingly, 56% of the voters were women, and in Faryab 52% were women. The lowest participation of women was in Helmand, Zabul and Uruzgan at 2 to 11%. These are areas infested with terrorists and Taliban.

In addition to their participation, women were also involved in managing the process of the election.

How has this rapid transformation occurred?

In just three years since the Taliban fell, the women of Afghanistan from being the most oppressed women in the world are emerging as a very important force for security, peace and democracy in Afghanistan. They have clearly made gigantic strides in their quest for equal rights.

Women are the prime advocates of peace, because they have the greatest motivation to seek peace. They lose everything in the war, and gain nothing.

Women and children are prime victims of war. In World War II civilian casualties were 65 percent, now 80 to 90 percent of casualties are civilian, and 80 to 90 percent of these are women and girls.

Out of the 35 million refuges and displaced persons in the world, 80 percent are women and girls.

In the post conflict societies, it is often women- and children-led families who constitute the majority of the population, such as Afghanistan, where approximately 54 to 60 percent of the population is female.

It is often left to women to gather any remaining family and seek safety and shelter under threat of violence.

When the family is secured, women’s attention turns outward to the community where they organize themselves to provide schooling, medical care, and support groups for traumatized persons.

In Afghanistan, women often went underground at great risk to themselves to help the community.

Afghan women have greater self-confidence now. Women have always been on the frontlines in post-conflict situations. War brings demographic shifts which force women to shoulder decision-making responsibilities.

The post-conflict period generally is the best window of opportunity to effect changes in the political, economic, and social climate of the country. When the fabric of society is destroyed, it can be rewoven in a better way to provide for gender mainstreaming.

International organizations and donor community have also played a constructive role. NGO’s, such as Peace by Peace, lobbied for the rights of Afghan women on the international and national scene and provided Afghan women’s organizations with financial, logistical and educational assistance. Donors earmarked funds for women.

Now that the Afghan and the women have made their contribution, the new President will enjoy a very strong mandate and robust support of the people.

It is up to the new President to deliver and live up to the fair expectations of the people. Afghans have high expectations for the future. They want to elect a president who is committed to improve security, enhance rule of law, fight narcotics and corruption, dissolve private militias and rebuild our war-shattered country. Afghans are asking for good governance, transparency, and accountability.

President Karzai is expected to win with a wide margin. This election has no loser except for the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Afghan people have won this election.

The new President cannot achieve these goals without the continued engagement and accelerated support of the international community.

In six months, Afghans are going to the polls to choose their parliament. By then, Afghans must feel the tangible results of their first investment in democracy. There are many warlords and drug lords vying to make their way into our future parliament.