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Building Markets hosts an interactive panel discussion on Increasing Voter Participation for the (2014) Elections

Post by: Sharif Samsor

On 06 March 2014, Building Markets hosted an interactive discussion on increasing voter participation in the 2014 elections. This discussion focused on the importance of supporting and increasing participation of women and vulnerable groups in the democratic process to ensure inclusiveness and transparency during the upcoming elections in Afghanistan.

The event took place at the Kabul Star Hotel in Shar-e-Naw – Kabul, Afghanistan. Participants included representatives from the National Assembly of Afghanistan, Independent Election Commission (IEC), Afghanistan Science Academy, Democracy International (DI), the Afghanistan Civil Society Elections Network (ACSEN), civil society representatives, Afghanistan Democracy Watch (ADW), foreign embassies, and wide coverage through national and international media.

Civic engagement in the electoral process is important because it helps further democracy: the process of a free will in choosing representatives to the public office by voters. Elections play a very important role in connecting the needs of the people with governmental decisions.

Building Markets hosted a panel of distinguished guests including: Ms. Laila Ehrari, Commissioner of the Independent Election Commission; Mr. Zekeria Barakzai of Afghanistan Democracy Watch; Mr. Bismillah Zazai Civil Society activists, and Prof. Bakht Mohammad, Member of Afghanistan Science Academy. The event was attended by over 100 participants representing national and international organizations, embassies, and media.

The event began with a recitation of holy Quran followed by statements from panelists. The panelists highlighted the importance of voter participation in the electoral process. Following the panel discussion, Ambassador Deborah Lyons, the Canadian Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan addressed participation and said, “Promoting free and fair elections in Afghanistan is a priority for our Government. We are contributing just over $2 million in elections projects in areas such as supporting civic education, training and deployment of electoral observers, and strengthening the political participation of female political candidates.” The Ambassador added, “as Canada’s Ambassador to Afghanistan, I can assure you that the Canadian Embassy and my government will work with Afghan women’s organizations, religious leaders, opinion leaders and a broad range of Afghan women throughout the country to help empower them, encouraging them to get out and vote on April 5th”.

Following her address, the Ambassador thanked participants for their dedication and commitment to Building Markets professional development programme, and distributed commemorative plaques to each participating organizations.

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