The Asia Foundation

The Asia Foundation

Improving Lives
Expanding Opportunities

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Afghanistan

Afghan citizens defied security threats and turned out in millions to vote in 2014's highly anticipated elections, leading to the country's first democratic transition from one elected president to another. We support Afghan citizens to create a stable, functioning society, focusing on strengthening key executive branch agencies; and support programs in civic education, women's empowerment, education, Islam and development, and free and fair elections. Read country overview.

 

The Asia Foundation has released findings from its annual public opinion poll in Afghanistan, Afghanistan in 2014: A Survey of the Afghan People. Read more here.

CRITICAL ISSUE: ETHNIC AND RELIGIOUS CONFLICTS

According to the Foundation's annual Survey of the Afghan People, 66 percent of the population say the most influential people in their community are religious leaders. Respondents say it is these leaders who shape public opinion and are looked to for guidance on what is acceptable change. Every Friday these leaders deliver sermons in an estimated 150,000 mosques in Afghanistan, influencing millions of Afghan citizens. Our local office works with religious institutions and leaders to create positive change and encourage non-military solutions to resolve political and religious differences. In 2013, we arranged exchange visits for religious leaders (Ulama), both men and women, from most of the country's 34 provinces to visit moderate Muslim majority countries such as Turkey, Malaysia, Egypt, and the UAE. The visits provide leaders with an opportunity to interact with their counterparts and learn how other religious leaders play positive roles in community development and dispute resolution. The program has inspired some participants to establish research centers, women's madrassas, and a new university. In Faryab province, we are helping the provincial and district governments respond to the needs of local people and engage religious leaders and institutions, from strengthening women's rights and access to justice, to enhancing conflict resolution skills.

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