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The National Democratic Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government.

Frishta Amini (left) and Farida Hamidi (right) from Nimroz province

Frishta Amini

Frishta Amini came 50 votes shy of winning a parliamentary seat in 2005, but she did not give up and continued to believe that Afghan women could engage in politics and work side by side with men. A member of the Anardaragi tribe, she grew up in an influential family that believed in the equal treatment of sons and daughters, one that supported her education and engagement in politics.

Amini won her seat in parliament with 3,369 votes, the second highest count in Nimroz province. She ran an effective campaign with an operation staffed entirely by volunteers. Amini believed that the people of Nimroz recognize those who would serve them honestly. A doctor by profession, she is known both in her tribe and her province for her trustworthy services.

As a longtime champion for women’s rights, Amini believes it is vital to increase women’s political participation. She said she is determined to work toward the improvement of women’s rights and for increased female participation in the Afghan government.

Farida Hamidi

A teacher by profession, Farida Hamidi is a natural mediator. From leading a women’s shura – a council that makes decisions through a deliberative or consultative process – to directing the Department of Women’s Affairs in Nimroz, she has used her talents to address and resolve problems across the province. Widely respected as a teacher, Hamidi was the first to establish a school for girls after the fall of the Taliban regime.

Hamidi won 3,480 votes in Nimroz province, outscoring all other candidates. She attributes her success to an ethnically diverse campaign team that reached out to different tribes and ethnic groups, and to the strong support she received from religious leaders. Encouraged by clerics in her family, religious leaders across the province supported Hamidi by giving her the chance to speak after Friday prayers in mosques in the region. Hamidi also attended the NDI campaign school for women candidates, where she learned new skills and received information that aided her campaign.

Hamidi believes that the tolerance and open-mindedness of voters in Nimroz province resulted in the selection of two Nimroz women to Afghanistan’s parliament.

Published February 9, 2011