Ghani jokes Afghanistan may beat US to woman president

 Afghanistan may have one of the worst reputations in the world for women`s rights in the world but its leader joked in New York Thursday that Afghans may elect a female president before the United States.

AFP| Updated: Mar 27, 2015, 00:16 AM IST

New York: Afghanistan may have one of the worst reputations in the world for women`s rights in the world but its leader joked in New York Thursday that Afghans may elect a female president before the United States.

President Ashraf Ghani could not resist the throwaway quip -- just weeks before Hillary Clinton is expected to announce her bid for the White House in 2016 -- while addressing a think tank.

Referring to efforts to crack down on corruption, Ghani said he wanted to be a bridge to a new generation of well-educated leaders, including "the first woman president of Afghanistan."

"Leaving aside questions of first women presidents," interjected host Robert Rubin, co-chair of the Council on Foreign Relations, to which Ghani quipped: "We may accomplish it before you!"

The Afghan leader then broke into a chuckle, met with laughter and applause from the audience, at his latest appearance as part of a maiden visit as president to the United States.

Due to quotas introduced after the 2001 US-led invasion reserving 28 percent of seats for women, Afghanistan ranks 39 out of 139 countries on a world index of women in parliament.

The United States ranks 72 on the list compiled by the IPU, an international organization of parliaments.

Women`s rights have made great strides in Afghanistan since the Taliban regime was defeated, but the country remains strictly patriarchal and women endure routine discrimination and violence.

Last Thursday, a 27-year-old woman was lynched by an angry crowd in Kabul, beaten to death and her body burnt for allegedly burning a copy of the Koran.