Years of conflict, drought and limited access to health care services make it difficult for vulnerable families in Afghanistan to grow enough food, improve their health, attend school or escape the cycle of poverty. This is especially true for women and girls.
In Afghanistan, mothers and children face some of the greatest challenges to survival found anywhere in the world. Health services across the country are uneven: pervasive socio-cultural, physical, and economic barriers impede the delivery of basic health-care. In addition, there is a lack of basic infrastructure, making physical access difficult.
Presbyterian World Service & Development is working with Community World Service–Asia (CWS-Asia) to address these challenges through innovative and sustainable development programs that improve farming practices, break down barriers to girls education and increase access to maternal health services.
“Women are happy with the maternal health services that have started here,” shares Amina, a twenty-eight year old expecting mother visiting a new health facility in Afghanistan. “People are usually unable to afford proper health services and have to travel long distances [to receive medical attention].” Thanks to the program, health services, including supplies and trained midwives and birth attendants, are now more easily accessible. Amina and other women in the community have also been taught about family planning, proper hygiene and the benefits of breastfeeding and nutrition.
PWS&D is working with CWS-Asia to improve the quality of mother and child health services and overcome cultural barriers that prevent women from receiving essential pre and postnatal care. Delivery rooms are being established and upgraded, and birth attendants receive training about how to deliver babies safely. Communities also learn about the importance of maternal health, nutrition, hygiene, family planning and the benefits of breast-feeding.
Girls’ education provides the opportunity for girls to overcome gender inequality and gain the skills to one day obtain employment, decrease poverty and contribute to the peaceful development of their country’s future. Educating religious leaders, parents and community members about the importance of sending children, especially girls, to school is essential to gain their support and increase attendance rates. Specialized trainings for teachers include sessions on child rights, gender, peace education and improved teaching methods, which foster a nurturing learning environment for girl students.
PWS&D works with international partners to carry out long-term community development programs that empower vulnerable people to overcome root causes of poverty and create lasting change. We undertake holistic programs in the areas of food security, livelihoods, health and human rights.
Human Rights: Working with partners in Afghanistan, Guatemala, Ghana, and India, PWS&D is responding to situations where women, youth and marginalized people are too frequently treated as second-class citizens, lacking access to basic human rights and freedoms. Through programs with local partners, women, children, and indigenous peoples are learning about their rights and working together to protect and defend themselves.