As Afghans head to the polls to vote for their president, more people than ever are contemplating to leave the country | Photo: picture-alliance/spa/S. Sabawoon
As Afghans head to the polls to vote for their president, more people than ever are contemplating to leave the country | Photo: picture-alliance/spa/S. Sabawoon

A new Gallup poll reveals that nearly half of all Afghan women would leave their war-torn country if they could. The news comes as Afghans prepare to head to elections in less than a week.

American public opinion research organization Gallup has revealed that perceptions of the quality of life in Afghanistan among Afghans in 2018 appear to be worse "than at any point in the past decade."

Gallup researchers concluded that Afghans "felt less safe, struggled more to find work and afford the basics, and rated their lives worse than anyone else on the planet."

The rate of dissatisfaction with the status quo was particularly high among the women surveyed for the report.

Afghanistan remains ravaged by violence and poverty  Photo picture-allianceAP PhotoA Wali SarhadiElections overshadowed by dissatisfaction

The poll comes in the midst of the deadliest year for Afghan civilians since the United Nations began documenting casualties. The overall condition of the country has also deteriorated, as millions of Afghans now have to struggle with food insecurity as well.

The survey of 1,000 people revealed that because of the dire situation, more Afghans than ever -- a record 41% -- said that they would like to "leave their country permanently if they could."

Those who said they wanted to leave said that Germany and Turkey would be their preferred destinations, with the US in third place. However, 
Gallup underscored that it typically "finds the percentage of people who desire to migrate … far higher than the percentage who actually make the move."

Queues tend to be long in Afghanistan  whether to participate in election or to leave the country  Photo DWS TanhaMore women than men wanting to leave

The poll suggests that as the country prepares for elections, incumbent President Ashraf Ghani may have failed to convince citizens to remain in the country. Since his election in 2014, a growing number of Afghans have tried to reach Europe.

The president will have to address a long list of issues, from security to poverty, if he is elected to a second term. The migrant situation is now also posing a growing threat to stability in the country, as the majority of those who are wishing to leave are Afghan women.

For the first time, there are significantly more women than men likely to want to leave: 47% of the women polled by Gallup said they would like to leave, triple the number of women who said the same in 2016. That number also compares to only 35% of men in Afghanistan who said they would be keen to migrate.

The number of women actually leaving Afghanistan is growing  Photo DWD TosidisLack of education for women

The survey also revealed that Afghan women were the "least satisfied women" in the world when it comes to the freedom to choose what they do with their lives. Only a third said they were satisfied at all, with a lack of education often blamed for standing in the way of achievement.

In spite of the prospect that the war on Afghanistan would liberate women, today 80% of women in Afghanistan remain out of the workforce and 91% only have a primary education or less.

Nearly two decades after the onset of the war, enrollment numbers have risen almost tenfold, according to UNESCO. But despite this, 3.5 million children remain out of school, mostly girls.

Women in particular say that they feel left behind in Afghanistan  Photo picture-allianceAP PhotoUncertain future

Afghanistan remains the 19th least developed country in the world, according to the latest Human Development Index (HDI) published in 2018. With a growing threat of the Taliban taking greater control over the country, particularly in the southwest, the rate of dissatisfaction and desire to migrate are likely to grow in coming years.

Gallup said in conclusion that the figures should "generate more alarm for Afghanistan's next government, which will need to find a new way forward and help Afghans — particularly women — envision a better future in the country."

Incumbent President Ashraf Ghani has his work cut out  if he is reelected  Photo picture-allianceAP PhotoM Dunham

 

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