Bamiyan Province: Maryam is 30 years old and lives in eastern Afghanistan in Bamiyan. She was not in Afghanistan during the Taliban period, but returned at age 13 and married at 14. She has three children and works at home.

I believe that Afghanistan is waiting for big changes from this year’s presidential election. Since defeating the Taliban, President Karzai has shown good governance, so I am optimistic that this election will bring positive change to Afghanistan.

I expect to have a very good president in the future, a president with new ideas for how to govern our country and who will think about the people. At least he should work to improve the way the country is governed. Administrative corruption is the most important challenge facing a new government. It should be resolved as soon as possible.

I voted in the previous elections and I will participate this time. Fortunately, we have enough security in Bamiyan and can get to the election center easily. We have separate voting centers for males and females so we can vote freely.

We don’t know the exact plans or policies of the candidates. But there are some among our provincial council candidates who do think about women’s rights and concerns. We are still trying to analyze their positions.

I want someone who can bring peace and improvement. We hope the peace process between the Afghan government and the Taliban will bring peace. All the candidates speak of bringing peace, but it is not clear which one is best.

I do not believe that any foreign country can affect the result of our election. I also do not think the Taliban is our enemy. The next president should continue negotiating and trying to understand their demands.

By Maryam, as told to Zakia