Tom Koenigs: Strengthening Afghan Civil Society Means also Strengthening Women’s Rights

Tom Koenigs visits Afghanistan office in Kabul, March 2011. Photo: HBS Afghanistan office.

May 23, 2011
Tom Koenigs
On the occasion of International Women’s Day, Tom Koenigs, the head of the committee for Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid, after a meeting with Afghan human rights activists at Heinrich Boell Stiftung Kabul declared:

Afghan civil society has become remarkably strong and self-confident over the last years. It is impressive how much power and sovereignty my male and female counterparts here in Kabul show. It is necessary to further support the efforts of Afghan human rights activists. Women’s rights are a priority for them.

We have to support these civilian human rights activists to allow for a free and fair Afghanistan to become a reality.

Western countries understand security in a way that is solely military security. We should not forget that human security also includes societal factors. Protection through police or military is for example not a driving force for an improvement of the situation for women’s education. Also a guardian at the entrance of the university campus who makes discriminating comments means insecurity and oppression for women.

The encouragement of civil structures should be at least as important for us as building-up the police and the military.


The statement has been translated into English by HBS-Afghanistan.


Afghanistan 2011 - 10 Years of International Engagement

After ten years of international involvement in Afghanistan, a second conference will take plan in Bonn this December 2011 to discuss the country’s future. Since 2002, the Heinrich Böll Foundation has actively supported the development of civil society in Afghanistan and has promoted exchanges between the German and Afghan public. The following dossier provides a venue for comments, analysis and debate ahead of the Bonn Conference on Afghanistan.