On the campaign trail
On the campaign trail, both Karzai and candidate Ashraf Ghani have reached out to women voters with special women's rallies. Thousands attended Karzai's rally in Kabul Thursday in which he claimed credit for opening girls' schools. Karzai also appointed the country's first female governor as well as female ministers.
Several women after the rally said they appreciated the focus on education, but complained that the salaries for teachers – many of whom are women – aren't enough to put food on the table.
"If Karzai were not here, we would not have the freedom to say all these things, but if Karzai is reelected, we want to have him work on these things," says Shakila Mohammad.
Controversial marriage bill
Representative politics here hasn't always represented female freedoms.
In March, Karzai signed a marriage law bill for Afghanistan's Shiite minority that critics said essentially legalized marital rape. The pushback, both from the international community and Afghan women, forced Karzai to suspend enforcement.
But a revised version released last month appears little better, giving a husband the right to withhold food to a wife who refuses to have sex with him. Karzai then used a legislative loophole to pass the revision by decree.
More women in government?
For Ms. Jalal, the whole affair explains how the government is not "gender sensitive."
She had fought for years trying to pass a bill to protect women against domestic violence. Meanwhile, the Shiite marriage law sailed through parliament.
Most of the gains for women came early in the transition from Taliban rule, she says, and promises made internationally have since remained unfulfilled.
"This lack of political willingness can be solved if we have more women in the next government of Afghanistan," says Jalal, who argues that 50 percent of the positions should go to women.
A woman's style of campaigning
The women who go door-to-door for Karzai seem to talk less about what Karzai will do and instead tell personal anecdotes about how their lives are better than they were seven years ago under the Taliban.