The Afghanistan Women and Youth VOTES (Voter Organization, Training and Election Support) Project focused on helping promote better understanding of and participation in the voting process among women and youth. In anticipation of the September 2010 Parliamentary and District Council elections, Equal Access provided education about Afghan government processes and encouraging Afghan citizens to take an active role in their elections. With mobile theater performances, 32 radio episodes in both in Pashto and Dari, listening group discussions, training programs, and strong partnerships with regionally located civil society organizations in eight provinces, Equal Access Afghanistan and U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) have made and will continue to make significant progress toward our voter engagement objectives.
Activities included the production and broadcast of 32 radio episodes both in Pashto and Dari languages, the development of unique drama scripts for each of the radio episodes, listening group discussions, leadership training workshops, the creation of public service announcements, content advisory groups and mobile theater productions in provinces and districts across Afghanistan.
One of the most effective and noticeable elements of the project has been the Fanayee Theater Group, an Afghan Organization which has been a long time partner of Equal Access Afghanistan. In rural areas around the country, vast numbers of people are illiterate, deprived of education and information, and have little knowledge of the democratic process or its place within Islam. For many of these people, theater provides educational and entertainment opportunities that would otherwise not be available.
Each part of the VOTES project comes together to successfully promote not just democracy but improved citizenship in general, increasing the sense of regional and national pride. Making Afghans more involved stakeholders with the development of their own communities has proven to be a rewarding outcome of this project.