I firmly believe that women's empowerment is core principal in development, and prosperity.
— Dr. Suraya Dalil,
Former Minister of Health Afghanistan
In recent years, political and social upheaval has been the norm in Afghanistan. Women face many obstacles in realizing their sexual and reproductive rights. The consequences of a lack of coverage and low-quality services have been further compounded by a limited education and awareness of reproductive health among both women and men. As a result, Afghanistan has retained a persistently high maternal mortality rate. In response, the Ministry of Public Health committed to increasing access to reproductive health services through multisectoral collaboration on a range of initiatives and approaches, involving a variety of stakeholders including policy makers, clinical practitioners, and religious leaders to advance the reproductive health rights of Afghan women.
The Resolve Award
The Resolve Award celebrates country-level, public sector leadership in driving innovations in reproductive health policy development, service delivery, and financing mechanisms. The Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health (GLC) recognizes national governments for their leadership and for serving as the hub around which civil society, the private sector, donors, and so many others engage.
The GLC celebrated Afghanistan with the 2014 Resolve Award Special Mention for its cross-sectoral work to advance reproductive health through policy development. The Ministry of Public Health sought to reduce maternal deaths and increase access to reproductive health services by:
•Creating policy initiatives to further the rights of women
•Increasing the variety of family planning methods and options available to women;
•Introducing reproductive health issues to school curricula
•Working with religious and community leaders to encourage family planning and to reduce misinformation and negative assumptions about it
By recognizing Afghanistan’s progress in a difficult socio-political climate, the GLC hopes to boost political will within the country to continue developing policies that advance sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Afghanistan’s achievements at the time of the Award included:
•A 33 percent increase in assistance at delivery by skilled birth attendants
•Development of Reproductive Health Strategy and Policy (2012-2016), endorsed by the Afghan government
•Creation and implementation of post-abortion care guidelines for health providers across the country, enabling women to access this life-saving support for the first time (2012)
•Training of 1,500 mullahs to serve as champions of reproductive health in their communities since 2009