All on Democratization & Youth


Civil society under pressure

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

By Barbara Unmüßig

Beyond Borders; Women Parliamentarians Perspective on Regional Peace Building

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.

“Reviewing Gender Quotas in Afghanistan and Pakistan”

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.

“I do not see politics beyond ethics.”

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. 

The tribal way of thinking must be eliminated

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.

Firm steps to a better future

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.

“Women are more interested in modern politics”

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.

Examining Afghanistan's electoral results

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.

“Girls and women must be part of a democracy”

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.

Tokyo Conference, the Last Opportunity

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.

Kabul‘s dreams of rock’n’roll

“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”.

Religion, Politics and Gender Equality

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.

What moves Afghanistan?

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?

By Barbara Unmüßig

Afghan voices:We Need Your Presence, Please Do Not Leave

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.

Journalists and the reputation of the German troops in Afghanistan

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.

“A legitimated government comes from its parliament transparency”

"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.

“Good government starts with good people.” - Democratization

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.

Book launch “Media and Elections: The role of media in democracies”

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.

We see the Kabul Conference as a window of opportunity for both the Afghan government and the international community

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.

RECONCILIATION WITH THE FEW, ALIENATION OF THE MANY: Why it is so important to obtain guarantees for women's rights at the Kabul conference

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.

“Women’s rights are not up for deal”

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.

Democratization and climate change: a time for action

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.

Women resist efforts to marginalize them in Peace Jirga

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.

Voice of the people’s representatives is disturbing the governing

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.

Afghanistan: The Missing Strategy

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.

AIHRC Press Release about London Conference

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.

Statement from the Afghan Civil Society to the 2010 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.

Civil Society Develpment Conference in Afghanistan

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.

"Afghanistan needs to heal its trauma of injustice"

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.

Afghanistan: The Missing Strategy

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.


An Electoral Guide for Young Candidates

Afghan youth participation in politics is limited in terms of opportunities for candidates to run for public offices. When young people get involved in politics, they often remain passive supporters rather than active decision-makers.  There seems to be two main factors where young people are often unable to exercise its rights and fulfill its responsibilities regarding involvement in decision making.

Perspectives Asia: Politics of Food

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.

For Democracy

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

“It is not Charity, it is a Chair of Power” - Moving Beyond Symbolic Representation in Afghanistan’s Transition Politics?

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.

Unmaking Political Patriarchy Through Gender Quotas?

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.

Perspectives Asia: The Gender Issue


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.

Ethnic Politics and Youth Political Participation in Afghanistan

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.

Youth Political Activism in Afghanistan


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.

Afghan Women Vision 2024

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.

Kabul’s educated youth: What kind of future?


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).

A First Step on a Long Journey: How People Define Violence and Justice in Afghanistan (1958-2008)


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.