Position Description

Program Officer for Afghanistan
Work Location Washington, DC or Remote
Requisition Number 1217
# of Openings 1
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Freedom House’s Emergency Assistance Program (EAP) seeks a Program Officer (PO) to support a new two-year initiative entitled Safeguarding Afghan Democratic Actors (SADA). SADA will provide short- and medium-term support to a broader range of Afghan civil society members at imminent risk, including human rights defenders (HRDs), civil society organizations (CSOs), women leaders, ethnic and religious minorities, LGBTI+ individuals, democracy champions, and other supporters of democratic norms. SADA will work with partner networks and organizations at the national, regional, and international levels to provide relevant, flexible, effective, and tailored support to Afghan HRDs, CSOs, and marginalized populations in their specific, dynamic contexts. The goal of SADA is to protect civic actors and marginalized and/or at-risk populations so that they can continue to work towards a democratic and resilient Afghanistan.


Utilizing EAP’s existing infrastructure for the provision of emergency assistance grants, SADA will deploy three types of short and medium-term assistance to HRDs, CSOs, and marginalized populations at risk to safeguard their ability to continue participating in society: 1) provide timely emergency assistance to HRDs, CSO, and individuals at risk to address needs for security, medical costs, legal representation, prison visits, trial monitoring, temporary relocation, equipment replacement, safe houses, and other urgent expenses; 2) protect and incubate scholars, artists, activists, and journalists to preserve freedom of expression and the free sharing of ideas, with a particular focus on women and marginalized groups; and 3) enable Afghan CSOs – particularly those run by and that serve women and marginalized communities – to re-orient themselves to their new context, continue their work, and raise their voices.


This program officer position will focus primarily on the first type of assistance – the emergency assistance grants – as detailed below, however, the PO will also have an opportunity to engage across all aspects of the SADA project and with other EAP staff with similar portfolios for different regions.


Primary Duties and Responsibilities


Case Processing:


  • Manage intake, vetting, and processing of emergency cases and guide decision-making regarding small grants to at-risk activists under threat for their human rights work.
  • Oversee day-to-day management of the emergency grant portfolio, including the tracking of emergency assistance requests, and coordination of grant dispersal and financial reconciliation
  • Manage extensive correspondence with potential and actual program beneficiaries, referral networks, references, service providers, and staff in Washington. 
  • Maintain safe working environment by complying with safety procedures, rules, and regulations.
  • Preserve and protect beneficiary confidentiality in all situations and with all documentation.


Monitoring and Reporting:

  • Monitor key developments regarding human rights violations and proactively respond to the needs of frontline activists including daily review of news alerts, press freedom, or UN alerts.
  • Conduct periodic assessment on the operational space for Afghan civil society and human rights defenders and provide reports on significant developments.
  • Deliver weekly, monthly, and quarterly program reporting on individual cases and country-specific developments.



  • Conduct outreach to multilateral, regional, and local organizations and civil society leaders to develop and expand our referral network. 
  • Conduct regular outreach to Afghan civil society organizations and HRDs in Asia in order to identify needs, opportunities for engagement.
  • Develop and maintain up-to-date files of program information and materials including but not limited to information fact sheets and application handouts.


Required Qualifications

  • Native fluency in written and spoken Dari or Pashto; preference for a candidate who is also fluent in other language(s) used in Afghanistan.
  • Bachelor's degree in international relations, political science, journalism, human rights, law, or a related field required
  • Minimum 5 years of work experience in the field of civil society, human rights, journalism, or rapid response to human rights defenders or humanitarian actors at risk
  • Strong knowledge of human rights issues and civic space issues in Afghanistan
  • Established relationships with civil society organizations and HRDs inside Afghanistan as well as those operating out of the region or internationally
  • Written and spoken English skills -- ability to convey complex ideas is required
  • Ability to demonstrate sound judgment under stressful conditions, guide decision-making on highly sensitive issues, and maintain credibility among varied audiences.
  • Strong ability to work independently, prioritize competing demands, and to meet tight deadlines with minimal supervision
  • Ability to apply attention to detail and consistently produce timely and error-free work
  • Ability to work flexible hours and be available on weekends as needed
  • Mastery of MS Office, specifically Word, Excel


Desired Qualifications:

  • Experience with human rights grant-making and knowledge of grants management databases
  • Experience addressing fundamental freedoms including of expression, association, and assembly is preferred
  • Familiarity with digital security issues and tools and ability to assess and address the security issues of threatened civil society actors


Work Environment and Physical Demands: 

Essential functions are performed in a remote setting.

Disclaimer: This job description is only a summary of the typical functions of the job.  It is not an exhaustive or comprehensive list of all possible job responsibilities, tasks   and duties.  The responsibilities, tasks, and duties of the jobholder may differ from those outlined in the job description and other duties, as assigned, may be part of the job. Freedom House may add, change, or remove essential and other duties at any time.

Qualified and Interested Applicants:

We invite qualified candidates to complete an online application and submit a resume and cover letter.

Only candidates who have been selected for an interview will be contacted.

Only candidates authorized to work in the U.S. without any restrictions need apply.




Diversity makes our work stronger. We actively seek a diverse applicant pool and encourage candidates of all backgrounds to apply. 


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