To try to sum up my work in Afghanistan, and the ongoing struggles in this part of the world in just a few sentences, would be both trite and woefully insufficient. Buy me a cup of tea and I´ll give you my more nuanced perspective. Given the importance of balancing out security interventions with the seemingly insurmountable democracy challenges I can say with confidence that this cannot be achieved without an on-the-ground experience.
My work in Afghanistan was the most intensive training program I have ever organized. It was extremely challenging, value-added to the parties, personally rewarding and troubling at the same time. I led trainings with 14 political parties as part of a three part series to support political parties and coalitions through a mentorship program. While the parties are subject to many structural, ideological and attitudinal failures, the parties engaged can be nimble (when motivated) and they have grown remarkably far in the last decade compared to where they first began (as warlord parties).
Unfortunately, I cannot post the photos of women I worked with in Afghanistan without security risk to them, as a country where it is the most dangerous in the world for women, particularly those who are active politically.
The 2014 Presidential election was held in April. Having worked with women in Afghanistan preparing for the election, I took note of the fact that women showed up at the polls in droves, despite the fear of the Taliban. In a sea of otherwise dark developments, this is progress. Afghanistan may be the most dangerous country in the world for women, but that isn’t stopping them from exercising their rights!