UNIFEM helps prepare Afghanistan for upcoming elections

To raise awareness and understanding of the parliamentary process, UNIFEM has published a manual titled "Parliamentary Manual: Institutional and Legal Principles," which has been distributed widely among government offices, Joint Electoral Management Body (JEMB) staff, and through the JEMB's provincial offices to more than 6,050 candidates in Dari and Pashto. English, Dari and Pashto versions have also been distributed among journalists, UN agencies, gubernatorial offices throughout Afghanistan, embassies, and some international and local NGOs. Additional copies of the manual are available from the UNIFEM Afghanistan office or website.

In the lead-up to the elections in September 2005, the manual is also being used to raise public awareness about the electoral process and encourage people to register to vote.

UNIFEM is partnering with Afghan National Radio and Television to produce a TV and radio program, based on the manual, to inform parliamentary candidates and the general public about fundamental constitutional and parliamentary concepts. Expert Afghan resource persons debate and discuss the material drawn from the manual on 30-minute weekly shows that are aired each Thursday from 9:30 to 10:00 p.m. on Afghan state TV, and rebroadcast every Friday from 2:00 to 2:30 p.m. The shows then go on state radio on Sunday from 9:00 to 9:30 p.m.

The program, which began broadcast on 23 June, has 11 episodes that cover topics such as constitutional state structure, the Afghan legal system, constitutional rights, election law principles and procedures, constitutional rules and regulations, parliamentary structure, constitutional law making, and public and constituency relations. The last program will be aired on 12 July, and will focus entirely on answering audience questions.