After threats, Afghan woman governor reappointed to new post

Dec 17, 2015

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — After months of threats and pressure, one of the Afghanistan’s few women in public office was removed from her post as the governor of a remote province and given the job of deputy provincial governor of Kabul, an Afghan official said Thursday.

President Ashraf Ghani, who took power in 2014 promising to appoint women to significant roles in public office, appointed Seema Joyenda in June as governor of Ghor province. At the time, she became one of just two women provincial governors.

But her appointment prompted protests by religious figures and local politicians and even death threats — faced by many working women in Afghanistan. Ghor is one of Afghanistan’s poorest and least developed provinces, with many areas outside the capital, Firuz Koh, believed to be under Taliban control.

On Thursday, Joyenda was appointed deputy governor of Kabul province, where the capital of Kabul is located, effective immediately, according to Nadir Yama, deputy policy director of the Independent Directorate of Local Governance. The directorate is a powerful body in charge of appointing provincial governors and supporting governance at local and provincial levels.

Munera Yousufzada, the IDLG’s spokeswoman, denied that the authorities had forced Joyenda to leave her post in Ghor but would not elaborate further on the sudden relocation to Kabul province.

“I do not think this will affect the role of women in government or politics, the president believes that women have a role in government,” Yousufzada told The Associated Press.

Joyenda could not be immediately reached and the president’s office refused to comment.

Ghor has been the scene recently of gruesome killings of women accused of “adultery,” including one who was stoned to death by a group of men in November.

In that incident, a young woman identified as Rokshana was forced into a deep hole in the ground while a group of men threw stones at her until she was dead. The killing, caught on a cell phone camera, prompted shock and outrage across Afghanistan.

The slaying was widely blamed on the Taliban — who forced women out of education and into their homes during their 1996-2001 rule — but no one claimed responsibility for the killing and there were reports that conservative religious forces in the province could have been behind it.