Since 2002, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) has supported Afghan partners working toward sustainable democracy, by strengthening electoral institutions and civil society in areas such as electoral integrity, electoral operations, political finance, legal reform, dispute resolution, public outreach, women’s empowerment, advocacy skills, and civic and voter education. IFES’ Afghanistan programs have focused particularly on fostering a new generation of young leaders, both women and men, and supporting the consolidation of democratic processes that are inclusive, transparent, and credible.
IFES conducted a comprehensive Afghanistan Electoral Integrity Assessment in 2013 that identified vulnerabilities to fraud, malpractice and systemic manipulation throughout the electoral process, and updated the assessment in 2015 to reflect developments following the 2014 election cycle.
Before, during and after the historic 2014 presidential and provincial council elections, IFES provided technical support to the newly permanent Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC). IFES’ civil society and citizen empowerment program highlights include the establishment of the Future Leaders Club, a long-term leadership training program for young women. IFES also established the first debate clubs and national debate tournaments in Afghan history.
IFES’ recent work has helped Afghans make their government more responsive to citizen needs, by equipping civil society organizations with advanced advocacy skills they can use to effectively and sustainably promote community priorities and hold leaders accountable to their commitments. This locally owned, volunteer-driven advocacy has resulted in public-private partnerships that show the potential for Afghan citizens and government to work together on building a better future.