A key component of FES international mission is the promotion of social justice and labor standards in developing economies. Also in Afghanistan, workers’ rights have been a driver for social activism across ethnic lines as trade unions were established already in the 1960s.
Today, the need for action to address social and economic inequalities is higher than ever. Afghanistan is plagued by stagnating growth, low investments, mass unemployment, and a predominantly informal economy. The situation is even worsened by the ongoing emigration of skilled labor, capital flight and corruption, demographic pressures including the (forced) return of Afghans from other countries and weak institutions to oversee and implement the rights of workers. FES Afghanistan works with trade unions, stakeholders, and civil society representatives towards the promotion of social protection, decent work and equality. Often times overlooked by the endemic insecurity, social inclusion in political and economic decision could enhance efforts of reconciliation and peacemaking particularly at the local level. FES promotes dialogue and systematic knowledge transfer between Afghan workers and trade union activists as well as their regional and international peers. At the same time and taking the specific Afghan context into consideration, FES actively encourages and facilitates a constructive exchange between government, employers, and workers particularly in the private and informal sector through workshops, trainings, and information campaigns.