The "Future Makers" of Afghanistan Raise Their Voices

Research report on Afghan Youth Project published

Young people make up two thirds of the Afghan population. In a new report by an international IPU research project they are given a voice and report on their perspective on the present state and possible future of their country.

The Afghan Youth Project was created to examine the consequences of everyday violence, existential insecurities and lack of perspectives in Afghanistan. These tendencies have been increasing dramatically for years and they have a major impact on the current dynamics of flight and displacement to Europe. Now the report of the project has been published, entitled "Glimpses of Hope in the Shadow of War". Within the report, results are shown in which Afghan youths have their say, in particular those who see themselves as "future makers".

"Looking for potentials for social and political change towards more peace and chances for the future in Afghanistan, one almost inevitably comes to the young generation", explains Prof. Dr. Phil Langer. He is an IPU professor and heads the Afghan Youth Project. "Young people make up two thirds of the population, but are strongly underrepresented in political and public debates – and also in research. The Afghan Youth Project is supposed to change that. It is part of a larger research programme at the IPU, which also deals with former child soldiers of the Islamic state.

"It was our goal to give the young people in Afghanistan a voice to express their problems and fears, but also their hopes and dreams," says Langer's colleague Aisha-Nusrat Ahmad. "We are concerned both with empowering young people from below and with influencing political decisions from above by formulating recommendations as to how we can succeed in activating the peace-oriented political potential of young people in the country".

Central questions in the research were: How do young people in a country marked by decades of conflict and war deal with all the violence and the manifold problems of poverty, corruption and lack of career prospects? How do they imagine a "different" future? What do they think they can contribute to this themselves?

More than 220 young people shared their life stories and their visions of the future with the researchers. They provide an insight into how violence feeds on a lack of perspective, how social inequality as well as ethnic and gender discrimination reduce opportunities for social participation, and how corruption and political stagnation in the older generation endanger their own future. At the same time, they show their willingness to take responsibility for a better future in solidarity and unity.

The solutions developed by the young people are exciting and surprising, emphasises Phil Langer: "When, for example, girls who have not received any formal education think about how their social role could be improved by educating men". The professor of social psychology and social psychiatry is convinced: "What the young people have to say can contribute a lot to understanding their current situation in Afghanistan and to understanding the young people who have fled to Germany.”

The report is aimed at a broader political public and presents selected results of the project in order to gain an insight into the extensive empirical material, which is unique in Germany in terms of depth and reach.

Read the report on the Afghan Youth Project