Yesterday Lisa Stone announced that BlogHer has teamed up with Global Giving in an effort to save as many women's lives as possible between now and Mother's Day. There are several worthwhile causes to support, one of which is helping Afghan women safely birth healthy babies.
In the country of Afghanistan a woman dies of pregnancy-related causes every 27 minutes of every day. That's 53 women every day and nearly 20,000 women per year or 1,900 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. According to the World Health Organization, in 2000 Afghanistan had the seventh worst maternal mortality rate in the world.
In the province of Badakhshan, "a woman faces almost 600 times the risk of dying in childbirth than do her counterparts living in North America. Of the thousands of infants left motherless, 75 percent will perish either during, or soon after, delivery."
One of the reasons for the abysmal mortality rate is gender discrimination. In Afghanistan men are seen as superior to women and sons are preferred over daughters. This translates into high rates of female illiteracy and malnutrition. Because of the preference towards sons, daughters are often married off early, while they are still children themselves. "More than 40 percent of Badakshani women are married before the age of 15 and often long before their immature bodies can cope with both the demands of sex and the rigors of childbirth. Girls under the age of 15 are five times more likely to die in childbirth than women in their 20s."
The terrain of the country is also a problem. Eighty percent of the population live in rural areas which translates into remote and rugged terrain, where roads are poor or don't exist at all. According to the Population Reference Bureau, only 14% of births in Afghanistan are attended by skilled personnel.
Because many women are without access to basic reproductive education, let alone modern methods of family planning, they are unable to choose when and how many children they have. The contraceptive use among married women, ages 15-49, is just 10%.
This Global Giving project for Afghan women can make a real difference. Creating Hope International and the Afghan Institute of Learning offer "lifesaving health services and medical interventions to pregnant women and babies through three rural clinics in Afghanistan, including on-site baby delivery for high-risk cases. CHI/AIL also educate women about their reproductive health so that they can make healthy choices during pregnancy and delivery."
I think it's important to note that the project is sensitive to Afghan culture and works with the community leaders before any programs are implemented. According to Global Giving:
AIL uses a culturally sensitive approach in providing health education and health services to Afghan women and children. They provide education and services in local settings that are safer and easier for women to access. They use mobile clinics to reach patients who cannot safely travel to the nearest health clinics. They employ female health providers because of a cultural preference in Afghanistan that women receive health care from other women. AIL works with community leaders and local men before implementing new and historical controversial programs, and begins new programs only at the request of communities.
As a result of this project 12,000 Afghan women will receive pre- and post-natal care, midwifery, family planning services, education on women’s reproductive health, delivery kits for home delivery, and assessment and intervention for high-risk pregnancies.
To learn a bit more about the Afghan women's project and the role AIL is playing in education, take a look at this video of a birth attendant training class outside of Kabul: Afghanistan: New Births, New Hope.
A donation of $25 means 20 women will have improved quality of life through reproductive health care and education. For $50, 40 women will have healthier babies because of reproductive health care and education. And for a donation of $85, one woman will be trained as a community health worker and will assist 9,000 women annually. It's amazing how such a small amount from us can make such a huge impact in the lives of people half-way around the world.
Now I pass the torch on to you. Please consider donating, adding a button or a widget to your blog and/or blogging about this project to help spread the word. If you do blog it, be sure to leave a link to your post in the comments. Together we can make a big difference in the lives of so many women and children.
Contributing editor Amy Gates also writes about attachment parenting, activism, green living and photography at Crunchy Domestic Goddess.
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