This report starts with an introduction to the debate on the concept of civil society, paying particular attention to Muslim societies where traditional forms of civil society associations are dominant. This then leads into a review of a wider range of associations presently active in Afghanistan, including the traditional shuras (community councils), religious networks, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), voluntary associations and interest groups, and political parties. The role of the gender dimension in Afghan civil society is emphasised. An argument here is that a unique opportunity for securing women larger influence risks being lost as gender issues now seem about to be moved from the centre stage into one among several cross-cutting issues.

Arne Strand

Deputy Director, Research Director, U4 Director