Individuals and organizations facing restrictive, oppressive and/or authoritarian forms of governance may be able to employ hundreds of nonviolent methods to amplify their voices, challenge power dynamics and press for reform. Tactics include protests, boycotts, sit-ins, civil disobedience and alternative institutions. Nonviolent resistance has been shown empirically to be twice as effective as armed struggle in achieving major political goals. The U.S. Institute of Peace promotes nonviolent approaches through education and training in strategic nonviolent action and movement-building; applied research on such movements and the efficacy of outside support; and publications that inform the work of policymakers to advance alternatives to violence.
Afghanistan’s Taliban, determined to capture a major city in the country, have advanced on Kunduz, in the northeast. The Taliban oppose any public role for women in Afghan society and have targeted women’s organizations in Kunduz. But a local journalist and mother, Sediqa Sherzai, for years has run Radio Roshani, a station that broadcasts programs for women’s rights and democracy.
Maria Stephan, senior policy fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace, testified before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission on March 21, 2017 on "Responding to the Global Threat of Closing Civic Space: Policy Options."
Kunduz once bustled as the cotton-mill capital of northeast Afghanistan. Amid Afghanistan’s 39-year-old war, it is now half-empty, fearful and bullet-pocked—a target in the Taliban’s fight to capture a major city. Remarkably, Kunduz also is a stronghold of Afghanistan’s women’s movement, including a handful of women-run radio stations. So when Taliban fighters briefly seized Kunduz in 2015 and attacked it again last year, they tried each time to kill Sediqa Sherzai, a journalist and mother who runs Radio Roshani.