March 30 - Afghan women voters want peace and stability so they can defend the freedoms they've gained since the fall of the Taliban. Masako Iijima reports
When coalition forces overthrew the Taliban in 2001, Afghan women like Bibi Sughra gained a new life. She opened a bakery -- something unthinkable under the rule of the hardline Islamists. But a decade later, her life is no easier. The Taliban is back, violence is on the rise and she's still stuck in poverty. (SOUNDBITE) ( Dari) AFGHAN WOMAN BAKER, BIBI SUGHRA, SAYING: "I have seven children and faced lots of problem with this job. I am tired of baking bread in such conditions. It has made me weak. I wish a better person takes power in the upcoming elections so that the lives of the poor will improve and there will be peace and security in Afghanistan" Her lament is a refrain heard across the country as it heads to elections Habiba Sarabi, a leading Afghan female figure and vice presidential candidate, urges women not to give up. (SOUNDBITE) (Dari) HABIBA SARABI, SECOND VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, SAYING: "There is a saying that women are half of society. We don't want to be the half which is disabled or inactive. Dear sisters! We have to try to change this disabled and inactive part of society so it is pro-active. We must have an active presence in economical, political, cultural and social spheres of this country." When women voters cast their ballots on April 5, peace and stability will be on their minds -- because without it, their lives are only set to worsen.