Yelich Statement on Start of Afghan Provincial Council Election Campaign

March 4, 2014 - The Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State (Foreign Affairs and Consular), today issued the following statement:

“The provincial council elections will mark another key milestone in the advancement of Afghanistan’s democracy. The participation of so many candidates in the process—including many women—underscores the importance of this election for all Afghans across the country.

“We urge the Afghan government to take every step necessary to ensure that all Afghan women and men can participate in the election and have a voice in the decisions that affect their lives. The full and meaningful participation of Afghan women in society is critical to ensuring Afghanistan’s sustainable development and economic prosperity in the years to come.

“Credible, constitutional and inclusive elections are essential to Afghanistan’s future peace and stability. Canada remains committed to supporting the efforts of the Afghan people in building a more secure, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan.”

A backgrounder follows.

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Backgrounder - Support for Elections in Afghanistan

Canada is committed to supporting the Afghan people and Afghan civil society as they build their new democracy and as they make their voices—particularly the voices of women—heard during the presidential and provincial council elections, to be held on April 5, 2014. The participation of so many candidates in the process—including many women candidates—underscores the importance of these elections for all Afghans across the country.

More than 2,670 candidates, including over 270 women, are running for a seat on Afghanistan’s 34 provincial councils. There are 420 seats being contested, and 20 percent (84) of those are reserved for women. In addition, two presidential candidates have named a woman as one of their vice-presidential running mates.

These elections will be an important transition in the advancement of Afghanistan’s democracy. To that end, Canada is contributing more than $1.8 million for two projects that will help support a more credible and representative democratic process during the 2014 elections.

Enhancing Participation and Protection of Citizens’ Democratic Rights

Implementing partner: Asia Foundation
Amount: Up to $1,209,000

With Canada’s support, the Asia Foundation will educate Afghan women and youth about basic electoral processes, such as how to vote, in an effort to increase their participation in upcoming elections. This project also supports the Foundation’s work to train female election observers, increasing electoral accountability and transparency in Afghanistan.

This initiative builds on a previous Canadian-funded project that trained and registered 156 Afghan women as election observers with the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan and also educated more than 29,000 Afghan boys and girls on basic electoral processes through 22 mock elections held in high schools across the country.

Deepening Democracy: 2014 Elections Observation Project

Implementing partner: Free & Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan
Amount: Up to $600,000

Canada is providing up to $600,000 in support of the Free & Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan to train and deploy up to 68 provincial coordinators and 200 long-term observers to monitor and report on the 2014 pre-election campaign activities. This project complements the broader efforts of the international community to support credible and constitutional elections in Afghanistan and aims to increase female participation in the electoral process through outreach activities and strategic partnering with women-focused civil society organizations.