Context of Our Work
Afghanistan is in the process of recovering from 25 years of conflict which left the country devastated by more than 1.5 million deaths, an estimated 25 million citizens living in extreme poverty, and the displacement of an estimated 3 to 4 percent of the population. Women suffered immensely throughout the conflict period as their fundamental rights were arbitrarily and persistently violated, particularly when the country was under Taliban control. Taliban oppression of women was violent and systematic. Women were not allowed to show their faces outside of their homes. Their access to education, employment and healthcare was severely restricted. They faced inhumane and degrading punishment, kidnappings, and forced marriages. An unknown number of women were subjected to human trafficking.
Afghanistan now faces enormous challenges on its path to reconstruction. The Afghan population must grapple with complex issues such as disarmament, the development of a viable, open government, the construction of basic infrastructure, and the creation of a new legal system that respects and protects the human rights of all citizens.
IHRLG History in the Region
Since 1995, we have worked with women's rights activists in numerous countries to address the growing threat of religious extremism. Since 1997, as part of that ongoing effort, we have provided Afghan and Pakistani women with opportunities to develop a comparative understanding of international human rights standards through working with women from other countries where religious extremism and violence against women persist. IHRLG operated an office in Peshawar, Pakistan from 2001-2002 to strengthen the capacity of Afghan refugee women leaders to use legal avenues in advocating for women's human rights; facilitate coalition building among Afghan and Pakistani women to promote the rights of women refugees and combat religious extremism in the region; and train and partner with local women leaders in conducting international advocacy and public awareness campaigns on violence against women.
In preparation for Afghanistan's eventual post-conflict reconstruction and transition, IHRLG amplified the voices of Afghan women leaders we work with to press the international community to commit to assuring Afghan women's full participation in peace negotiations, transitional justice processes, and the establishment of a post-conflict government.
To better meet the challenges and opportunities facing Afghan civil society today, IHRLG opened an office in Kabul in January 2002. Our Afghan Lawyers Training Program introduces Afghan judges, scholars, lawyers, and other legal professionals to a wide range of legal topics relevant to their work, including the Bonn Agreement and its legal basis, international human rights standards, principles of government accountability and transparency, and relevant standards for the new constitution of Afghanistan. IHRLG also works to empower these professionals to use their knowledge of international human rights law to develop advocacy campaigns involving the Transitional Islamic Government of Afghanistan's Constitutional Commission and Human Rights Commission.
Click on the links below to learn more about IHRLG's activities in Afghanistan.
Cultivating legal literacy and building capacity for women's rights advocacy
Encouraging civil society participation in Afghanistan's post-conflict reconstruction