All on Democratization & Youth


Grafik Sprayer

An analysis carried out by CIVICUS indicates that in far too many countries and in all global regions the conditions for civil society work and activities has worsened. Some of the solutions to this problem could be taken by civil society itself.

Graphic visualizing the threat on freedom of the press (with quote)

In many regions of the world the freedom of the Internet is just an illusion. Especially in Arab countries, the neighbouring states of Russia and Subsahara-Africa the year 2015 marked the lowest point for democratic participation and civil liberties.

Graffiti "My vote for the future" ...

People want democracy. The surveys show anywhere in the world. But what is the right way to help people on the way to a better life in a liberal democracy? With years of active work in promoting democracy we support mainly dedicated people in the existing or emerging civil societies.


hrinking – closing – no space: Governments across all continents villainize civil society actors. Where does their sense of threat emanate from?

In 2015, the hbs head office in collaboration with regional offices in Afghanistan and Pakistan arranged a delegation visit to Berlin and Brussels from to discuss country situation, women parliamentarians performance, gender equality, peace building, shrinking spaces for women rights activism, and share the findings of the comparative study “Unmaking Political Patriarchy through Gender Quotas?” with a wide range of stakeholders at the European level.

Within the framework of the hbs research project "Reviewing Gender Quotas in Afghanistan and Pakistan" a delegation of women parliamentarians, together with civil society activists from Afghanistan and Pakistan, went on a visit to Berlin and Brussels. The delegates discussed the findings of the study on women's political representation as well as their role in peace-building and security in the region with European parliamentarians, policy makers, experts and practitioners.

Current Afghan politicians must allow and help young politicians to assume better roles in the country’s political system so that we can move towards an ideal society with modern politics.

I will struggle for social justice using all of my physical and mental capacity. It actually does not matter whether you are alone or in a group, but what is important is how you manage and structure your energy.  

The tribal mindset still rules the society but the youths have proved their abilities at both national and international levels decreasing the level influence of patriarchy. 

Keeping in view a particular structure—is actually not erasing the previous generation of politicians. But the objective is to pay more attention to young people, and the experiences of successful politicians must be used in that regard.

Young people are an energetic portion of a society. They can get involved in political activism. They can also contribute to the fight against corruption, insecurity, and factors such as nepotism to establish a better government.

The main victims in the fight to reach peace and security are young people. Nonetheless, in government decision making, the role of young politicians is negligible; this shows what the government’s motivations actually are.

Women want to play a greater political role – as is shown by their involvement in the drafting of the law for the ‘Elimination of Violence against Women’ and the new family law, as well as by their growing participation in parliamentary and provincial council elections.

This year’s election is not the first fraudulent election the country has experienced. An assess of the structure of power and the behavior of Afghanistan's elites vis-à-vis democratic forms of power.

Development projects and construction work around military bases make up an overwhelmingly large part of Afghanistan’s economy. With foreign troops withdrawing and declining aid, the country is looking for its future economic path.

What can we make out of a deadlocked electoral result, with seemingly contradictory stories from the candidates? A graphical analysis shows: Ghani's second round numerical victory was brought about by finding 1.3 million new votes and depositing them in key spots.


Officially there are no legal obstacles to women participating in politics in Afghanistan. However only one woman registered as a presidential candidate among many men, making discrimination against women in Afghan politics obvious.

The Karzai era has been given a moderate appraisal. But the Afghan president alone isn't responsible for everything he's being accused of. The West must take part of the blame too.

The youth in Afghanistan is demanding a change. With social media, arts, newly established organizations and initiatives young Afghans are mobilizing against war and corruption in their country.

Simia Ramish is a civil rights activist and journalist. As a candidate in the Herat provincial council election she aims to play an active role in politics. In this interview she explains her goals and wishes for Afghanistan.

At present, Afghanistan has turned into a focal point of agreements between Western and Eastern countries. These Strategic Partnership Agreements (SPAs) that Afghanistan has signed with many countries of the world, including Germany are deemed as vital achievement for the country.

“Sometimes it seems as if it was all part of a big plan”, says Sulayman Qardesh. He smiles at his band colleague Siddique Ahmad. Number three, drummer Mujtaba Habibi, couldn’t come for our interview. It was a perfect match when these three boys of different origin happened to meet and found Afghanistan’s first indie rock band, the “Kabul Dreams”.

German involvement in Afghanistan did not begin with the attacks of September 11. In the 60s and 70s, Afghanistan was a key aspect of West German development aid. Aid efforts are still fondly remembered today, as is evident from the technical centres (Technikum) in Paktia and Kandahar.

Some observers see incompatibilities between democracy, human rights and gender equality, on the one hand, and a world in which religion plays an active role in public affairs, on the other. Others ask whether it is useful to see religion as the nemesis of gender equality, and secularism as others ask whether it is useful to see religion as the nemesis of gender equality, and secularism as the precondition for it.


In December 2011, ten years after the Petersberg Conference, the future of Afghanistan will be discussed anew. How can Afghanistan increasingly become militarily, politically and economically more independent? And where does the Afghan parliament and civil society stand in this year’s Bonn Conference? Will they be included? Or will they – as is so often the case in international conferences – be excluded?

Wedding ceremonies have become ruinous for many Afghans. A new law now aims at limiting the expenses. The good intention of the initiative is tarnished, however, because the draft at the same time sanctions heavy governmental interference into personal affairs.

March 8 is an exceptional day in Afghanistan: men congratulate, women celebrate, and there are flowers and presents – all on the occasion of international women’s day. Nice as these festive elements are, they cannot distract the attention from the fact that the last decade’s achievements in women’s rights are still far from solid.

Hearing for the first time about Afghanistan Woman's National Football Team, I found it really courageous and brave of Afghan women rising from a country where the conditions are not favorable for females and where the controversies about female football players have to be taken seriously.

The debate about whether to extend the German troops‘ mandate in Afghanistan or not is polarizing Germany. The deployment at the Hindukush has become less and less popular in Germany over the years. Meanwhile, in Afghanistan still big hopes are lying on particularly the German engagement.

On the brink of the German Parliament’s debate about their mission’s extension in Northern Afghanistan, it is important to look at the number of terrorist activities in the North. The increase of attacks in winter - that means, in a season in which Taliban traditionally carry out fewer attacks -  substantiates the assumption that the Taliban are aiming at public opinion in Germany.

Women and Children Legal Research Foundation, as a potential partner of HBS Afghanistan and a legal and research entity, following its previous press releases, once again express its concerns on the legal situation of women taking into account the researches undertaken recently.

Being a journalist is a dangerous job in Afghanistan. In the past nine years we have lost about fifteen journalists in different incidents. Just two days ago one of our famous news anchors was stabbed in Kabul. So it is dangerous because we always have the problem of accessing the information in the war zone. And the Taliban are not helping the journalists, but are always trying to capture and kill them.

In this commentary, former UN Special Representative for Afghanistan, Tom Koenigs, discusses the outcome of the London Conference with a focus on US and German engagement in reconstructing Afghanistan.

"A legitimated government comes from its parliament transparency”. I would like to focus on passage and approval of new and updated laws according to Afghan context. In addition I want to establish an active group who can transparently observe government work and fill the gaps present in some current laws of Afghanistan.

Since women and children are both vulnerable groups in our country, I will mostly focus on and consider these two groups. They face problems by any new evolution and changes in the country, Taliban regime is a clear example of it. If I get the chance to be a parliamentarian I would like to establish an advocacy group to lobby for women and children rights.

Media in democracies is often referred to as"the fourth pillar of power", and rightfully so. Ideally, this is what they do: Exerting control over politics by reporting on what they see and learn on what is happening. To be part of a decision making process, citizens need to be informed on all aspects relevant to them. What the media finds out and reports about might, however, differ from the image politicians want to give. In this case, hardly anybody is self-critical enough to admit flaws in his or her policy but rather blames it on the media.

The AIHRC, as an active member of the Governance cluster, is assertive and supportive of the priorities on Rule of Law, Justice and Human Rights. All of these priorities are inter-related that each of them effect the achievement of other. Achieving these priority objectives will, definitely, have positive impact on promotion of human rights and civil responsibilities, and finally, it furthers trust between the citizens and government.

The Kabul conference is an important milestone for the Afghan government. With the biggest event ever hosted by Afghanistan, it will be a demonstration of the capabilities the government has developed over the last years. If the conference is not disturbed by major security incidents, this indeed will encourage other countries confidence in Afghan sovereignty and encourage them to hand over more and more responsibilities in the cluster areas as defined in the London conference.

We women need peace more than anybody else, because we lose more than men in war. War rubs us of the little rights we have fought for over the long years as well as of the economic, political, social and cultural opportunities. At the same time, we believe that achieving a lasting peace is impossible without realisation of justice, good governance, rule of law and respect for human rights.

A surprising omission is the balanced inquiry into what climate change and its effects mean for democratization, and what democratization could mean for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and climate adaptation. This paper draws attention to the little explored relationships between climate change and democratization.

Dr. Suraya Sobhrang and Dr. Bente Aika Scheller

Dr. Soraya Sobhrang, one of the most prominent Human and Women's Rights defenders in Afghanistan, was awarded the sixth Front Line Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk in Dublin in 2010.

Organizations for women’s rights in Afghanistan can be proud: While in the beginning the government considered to have only 20 women among the delegates, now more than 340 women joined the National Consultative Peace Jirga. This is due not only to lobbying of activists but more importantly to a long-term effort that started ahead of the London conference.

In February, one day before the end of the Afghan parliament’s winter break President Karzai passed a presidential decree that limited the role of the international community in the upcoming elections to being a sponsor and also brought a number of other changes to the electoral process. Now the representatives of the people defied his blunt attempt to change the rules of political participation without any consultation.

An interview with Shanthie Mariet D’Souza (Associate Fellow at IDSA, Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS),National University of Singapore (NUS)

Interview with Dr. Bente Aika Scheller, Director of the Heinrich Boell Foundation in Kabul, about the Afghanistan Conference in London.

President Barack Obamas strategy for Afghanistan probably only satisfied the American audience who will support a continued US war effort only if there is a fixed deadline for starting to pull out US troops. Those who feel the war is futile were bound to be disappointed. But the reaction in Afghanistan and Pakistan has been equally skeptical.

The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) always supports the efforts made by the Islamic State of Afghanistan and international community for restoration of peace and stability, good governance, fighting corruption and ending the culture of impunity, economic and social development and improvement of regional cooperation brought up in the London Conference.

As more than sixty nations gather in the coming days to discuss Afghanistan’s future, it is critical that the voices and concerns of the Afghan people are raised. Representing the six major coordinating bodies of civil society and NGO groups working in development, human rights, education, and humanitarian aid in Afghanistan, we call on the participants of the London Conference to ensure that the needs of the Afghan people remain forefront on the international community’s agenda.

the 50% Campaign, an Afghan group of women’s rights and citizenry activists, published an open letter. They ask the Afghan Government and the international community at the International Afghanistan Conference in London to stand by their obligations before the Afghan women and to deal with their demands.

Three Afghan Civil Society Development Conferences i.e. 2003, 2006 and 2008 was implemented in Kabul. There was a keen interest to conduct a fourth Afghan civil society development conference in order to review the situation and revisit the findings. It was also deemed necessary to check the mile stone and achievements set in the previous meetings and conferences.

In an interview Aziz Rafiee, the Managing Director of the Afghan Civil Society Forum, talks about how the funding for Afghanistan could be employed better, the German involvement in the country and why he doesn't think the Talib will negotiate.

A group of Afghan women activists from politics, media and civil society in Afghanistan met in the office of the Heinrich-Böll-Foundation in Kabul. Now they adress an open letter to the Members of Parliament

President Barack Obamas strategy for Afghanistan probably only satisfied the American audience who will support a continued US war effort only if there is a fixed deadline for starting to pull out US troops. Those who feel the war is futile were bound to be disappointed. But the reaction in Afghanistan and Pakistan has been equally skeptical.


Food is a highly political issue. Nowhere is this more true than in Asia. This publication seeks to illustrate some conflicting issues in the field of food and nutrition. The contributions highlight a selection of fields, where political action is needed to ensure that there is enough food on people's plate, which is also healthy and nutritious.

The present publication “For Democracy” outlines and analyzes the state of democracy worldwide as well as the possibilities of democracy assistance.

The democratic environment over the last decade provided a crucial opportunity for civil and political activities in Afghanistan in which not only political parties but also civil society organizations, youth groups and networks were founded to consolidate democracy and endeavor to push forward their participation in politics and society.

In this action research project, experiences with quota designs, challenges and achievements of quota parliamentarians, in terms of substantive representation, are reviewed in Afghanistan. The focus lies on the concept of political patriarchy, that is, an androcentric to sometimes even misogynist political configuration in relation to (i) power relations, (ii) socio-political culture and gender roles prescriptions, (iii) institutional setups, practices and discourses.

In this study the authors, Farzana Bari and Andrea Fleschenberg, are identifying commonalities and differences of Gender Quotas in the parliaments in Afghanistan and Pakistan and contextualize women’s political participation and gender democracy worldwide. From the findings of the country studies, they are drawing concrete recommendations for practice.

In this edition of Perspectives Asia, the authors highlight certain aspects of gender relations and offer some very personal insights into the situations of women and men in Asia.

Afghan educated youth, mainly have a dense presence within the civil society organizations, which acts more or less as a reactionary force and voices the social protests but fail short to translate it into political actions. Political parties, except a few youth-centric ones, are dominated by the traditional elites within a paternal political context.

Although the country is unlikely to face any revolution in the immediate future, with 68% of its total population under the age of 25, Afghanistan is currently witnessing a serious growth in its youth population, and it has resulted in socio-cultural and political consequences that have been previously unheard of in Afghan political culture and conventions.

On March 8th, 2014 the Afghan Women's Network (AWN) in Kabul and in all 34 provinces has launched the "Women Vision 2024" paper. The paper has been developed through consultation meetings of leading women rights activists and has been consulted with women in all 34 provinces of the country.

After more than a decade of an international intervention and close to the proclaimed second post-2014 transition phase, women's political participation remains precarious and volatile in Afghanistan despite inroads made.

At a time when 68 % of the population of Afghanistan is under 25 years, the research aims at getting an insight into the mindsets of Kabul’s educated young generation. What are their perspectives in life? What are their aspired professions and social status? A research conducted by Human Rights and Eradication of Violence Organization (HREVO).

The present study by Andrea Fleschenberg shows that in national and international debates about the transition process in Afghanistan women’s voices are seldom present, or taken into consideration. Andrea Fleschenberg

How People Define Violence and Justice is a joint research project of ACSFo and HBS on international crimes, massacres, rapes, murders, destruction of residential areas, homicide and imprisonment of intellectuals, torture and human rights abuses of the past fifty years. The standards for justice and human rights violation in this project are defined by people. Views, beliefs and utterances of respondents constitute the basis of this research.

Democratization and Youth

Power should be in the hands of the people – and everybody should have the same chance to participate in it. Heinrich Böll Stiftung (HBS) is committed to securing equal access for all members of society to participate in shaping politics in their country. That can be achieved only through a democratic system. Democratization is a chief tenet of green politics and a central issue in political education which aims to promote a better understanding of democratization – defined as the way democratic norms, institutions and practices evolve and are disseminated both within and across national and cultural boundaries. Still it is often far from clear how to translate the general notion of democratization into concrete projects, campaigns, or educational programmes. "Civil society" is one such concept which, while widely embraced, is very contentious when it comes to questions of implementation.