February 16, 2005

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Maybe there is hope for the world yet... My favorite news story of the day.

Woman to be governor in Afghanistan

Feb. 16, 05

President Hamid Karzai is preparing to appoint Afghanistan (news - web sites)'s first female provincial governor, in another step toward reviving women's rights that had been trampled by the hard-line Taliban government.

An all-female short list including former Women's minister Habiba Sarobi has been drawn up for the governorship of central Bamiyan province, presidential spokesman Jawed Ludin said. No decision has been made, he said.

"One of those ladies will be the governor of Bamiyan," Ludin said at a news conference. "If a woman is able to do the job, the law says we can appoint her."

Sarobi said she had discussed the position with Karzai after rejecting his suggestion that she become an Afghan ambassador abroad. "I want to be inside the country at the service of my people," she said.

Millions of women and girls have returned to work and school since the fall of the Taliban in late 2001. Equality before the law is embedded in a new constitution, and some women have abandoned the head-to-toe public veiling that was mandatory under the tough Islamist regime. Seats are also reserved for women in the two-chamber parliament to be installed by elections this year.

Conservative custom still confines most rural women to the home. Health services aimed at alleviating high levels of maternal and infant mortality are being extended only slowly. Karzai has named three women to his nearly 30-strong Cabinet.

Sarobi said she had a good chance of gaining acceptance in Bamiyan province. It is inhabited almost exclusively by fellow ethnic Hazaras where women have traditionally been freer to work and gain education. "It wouldn't be possible for me to be governor of provinces in the south, southeast or southwest," she said.

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