The Christian Science Monitor has a good overview of the role of women in tomorrow’s presidential elections in Afghanistan.

Women’s roles in the upcoming national elections highlight some of the gains – and many of the remaining challenges – facing Afghan women as the country has moved toward democracy. Considering that eight years ago Afghan women were not allowed to venture out alone, just participating at all in the elections process marks progress.

In addition, McClatchy has a fascinating story about surgeon, mother of four (and currently pregnant with her fifth) Zaiba Habib Durrani, one of only two female candidates running for office. The story details some of the terrifying threats she’s received including vows to kill her or disfigure her face with acid.

Durrani, 34, a surgeon and a candidate for provincial council, told of how insurgents had tailed her husband and her on a 200-mile round-trip drive to Kabul from the eastern city of Jalalabad. One of the insurgents later telephoned and recounted the couple’s every move, including a prearranged switch of cars they had made to elude any pursuers. “He said, ‘Our people followed you. … Either our people didn’t get a chance to kidnap you or they decided not to.'”

Despite these threats, Durrani continues to risk her life to campaign:

The provincial councils for which Durrani and other women are daring to run are all but powerless. They can only monitor and advise the provincial governors. Still, Durrani said she had been able to use her post to advocate for women and the poor with officials and to recruit sponsors for health and literacy programs. “Everyone tells me that I speak too openly, that it creates a risk for me,” she said. “But if we are afraid and sit at home, then we can do nothing for women’s rights.”