President Hamid Karzai has appointed Habiba Sarabi as Afghanistan's first woman governor. Ms. Sarabi, a former minister for women's affairs, is governor of the central Afghan province of Bamiyan. She calls her appointment "another important step towards women's rights in Afghanistan," and says she has much to do:
"I promise to work, inform, mobilize and educate women in Bamiyan."
Some Afghans have voiced disapproval of women holding government office. "While most of the ordinary people support me, there is a lot opposition from warlords and commanders," said Ms. Sarabi. "Thankfully, I have the support of [commander Karim] Khalili and from the young people and the women of Bamiyan." The new governor also says she has received plenty of supportive "calls from people in Bamiyan and the representatives of the council -- the traditional leadership."
President Karzai plans to appoint more women to positions of power, including provincial governorships. The new Afghan constitution requires that women hold at least sixty-eight of the two-hundred-forty-nine seats in the lower house of parliament.
Ms. Sarabi said Afghan women "should not take it easy, otherwise warlords will grasp this absolute right of women" –- the right to participate in their government. Afghan woman have many pressing needs. "Poverty is a major issue," says Ms. Sarabi. She plans to "work on the reconstruction, to find some jobs for people."
Violence against women, including rapes, forced marriages, and kidnappings, remains a serious concern. Taleban remnants still threaten women who vote or take part in government. "Unfortunately we can clearly see political violence against women," said Ms. Sarabi.
President George W. Bush says that women voting and holding office in Afghanistan are part of "the advance of freedom." That advance, says Mr. Bush, "has great momentum in our time."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.