Putting family planning in the hands of Afghan women

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Country Director, Marie Stopes International Afghanistan
10 Jan 2014

This week the Afghanistan government reiterated its prioritisation of family planning through the unveiling of a symbolic sculpture in central Kabul. The sculpture of a hand signifies both the importance of reproductive health and its ability to help women control their own health, and the importance of partnership.

The Afghan Minister of Public Health, Dr Soraya Dalil unveiled the piece at a historic event attended by parliamentarians, UN agencies, local NGOs, donors and international agencies.

The Minister said:

Our family planning services are based on the mission, principles and policies of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and support the commitments we have made under the Millennium Development Goals. Birth spacing services reduce the mortality of mothers and children, and build healthy families, healthy children and a healthy society.

Dr Farida Razawi, from Marie Stopes International Afghanistan explained:

If Afghan women cannot access reproductive services they will continue to die young and experience poor health, violence and inequality. A lack of reproductive control and choice, particularly for girls, undermines educational and economic equity, and perpetuates discrimination. 

Prioritising maternal and reproductive healthcare

Improving access to maternal and reproductive healthcare are key priorities for the Ministry of Public Health but successes will only be made with ongoing support from donors and international agencies; support which will strengthen the health system in the long term.

Recruiting and training community health workers to deliver sexual and reproductive healthcare for example is a proven and cost effective way to dramatically reduce maternal mortality. 

Dr Farida Razawi, Marie Stopes International Afghanistan said:

For too long Afghan women have died unnecessarily - we are delighted that the Afghan Government, NGOs and donors are stepping up their efforts and listening to what Afghan women want. 

This sculpture recognises the ground-breaking efforts of the Ministry, working in partnership with Marie Stopes International, in giving women choice and control - putting their health in their own hands.

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