Afghan Parliament Holding Public Hearings
In a bid to increase public participation in the legislative process in Afghanistan, two committees of the National Assembly's Meshrano Jirga (the upper house) held public hearings on October 14 and 20 in Kabul. These hearings were the first time that the Meshrano Jirga has engaged the public through these important outreach forums. SUNY/CID's Afghanistan Parliamentary Assistance Project (APAP) provided technical and financial support for both events.
The first public hearing brought more than 70 stakeholders, including university officials, student union representatives, and civil society organization representatives, before the house's higher education committee to address concerns about various barriers to accessing higher education in Afghanistan. At the end of the day, parliamentarians and central government representatives present decided to establish a joint committee to follow up on the issues that had been raised.
APAP also facilitated the Meshrano Jirga's second public hearing, which was hosted by its committee for health and focused on issues affecting disabled Afghans. Representatives from Afghanistan's large disabled community, many of them war veterans, were provided with an important forum to present their message directly to their national representatives. "It is important for parliament to get people's views on issues of concern and try to find solutions to the problems they face on a day-to-day basis," said committee chairperson Ms. Taiba Zahidi as she opened the hearing, which was attended by approximately 90 participants.
Mohammad Sadiq Mohibi of the Community Based Rehabilitation Network expressed his excitement about the success of the event. "This sort of gathering provides for a better understanding among legislators, in order to shift their views about disability from a charity model to a human rights-based model," he said afterwards.