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Wednesday, 12 June, 2002, 15:39 GMT 16:39 UK
Profile: Massouda Jalal
Dr Massouda Jalal
Dr Massouda says women have suffered the most

Dr Massouda Jalal - who has challenged the current interim Afghan leader Hamid Karzai - says she is standing against him because it is her human right.

Supporter of interim Afghan leader Hamid Karzai putting up a poster
Karzai is expected to be chosen to continue as leader

Dr Massouda, an elected delegate from Kabul, has the support of at least 10% of the delegates to stand as head of state and her candidacy has opened up the election.

An independent woman is standing against the sitting head of state, who has gained the backing of most of the influential civilian figures and the armed factions.

She says that after such a long and bitter civil war, Afghan women form two-thirds of the population.

Two million of them had families and they have suffered the most from the fighting.

She says it is their right to vote and to stand as candidates at the highest level.

Symbolic candidacy

Dr Massouda is a paediatrician and is currently working for the World Food Programme, responsible for gender issues and health throughout Afghanistan.

Women delegates at the opening session of the loya jirga
Afghan women are demanding a role in public affairs

She may stand little hope of being voted in, but her very candidacy is symbolic.

This time last year Afghan women had no right to work or study; legally they were completely private citizens.

Most women here still live secluded lives, but in the loya jirga tent there are an unprecedented number of female delegates.

And they are proving to be some of the most outspoken and eloquent speakers.


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12 Jun 02 | South Asia
11 Jun 02 | South Asia
09 Jun 02 | South Asia
09 Jun 02 | South Asia
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