Tag Archives: gender equality

A clinic focusing on women

In the Nawur clinic project, mothers and babies are the primary focus of Nai Qala.

Men with a health concern can travel to town to get treatment in a hospital, but the situation for women is more challenging. A woman who is ill must be accompanied to hospital by at least one other female family member and by a male family member. If the woman has children, she must leave them behind if she goes for treatment. Some health problems require a longer stay in hospital and some need medical follow-up over months. Furthermore, families are often reluctant to pay the costs of prolonged hospitalization. Consequently, women simply do not travel to clinics or hospitals that are far away. This is one reason for high female and child mortality rates and it is also why the Nai Qala Association built the Nawur clinic.

Inaugurated in November 2011, the clinic now has 11 staff providing health services for a population of 20,000 in the surrounding region. Since its opening, there have been more than 60,000 consultations, of which over 11,000 concerned children. Some 750 babies had been born in the clinic as of December 2017.

Nai Qala Association is proud to have been in direct contact with the Ministry of Public Health since the beginning of the project. Our original partnership with the ministry was from 2012 to 2016 and we were offered an extension to 2020. The administration of the Nawur clinic was transferred to the ministry in June 2015. In many official meetings the example of the Nawur health centre has been cited to show that it is possible to provide health services to one of the most isolated regions of Afghanistan.

Women in Nawur typically have large families. It is unusual to see a couple with fewer than five children. Most families have more, and it is not outside the norm to have 12 children. Observers may question why parents have such large families, especially given the economic limitations. However, where the survival rate of children is low, it is understandable that parents have more to increase the chance that some will survive. Limitations in care both during pregnancy and in the postpartum period leave mothers and babies at risk.

Reducing or eliminating these risks will reduce parents’ anxiety about their children’s survival and will foster a subsequent reduction in supernumerary pregnancies. The clinic is vital to reducing these pervasive risks.

As of the end of December 2017, 3156 women and 1022 children had been vaccinated in the clinic. Some 13,000 outpatient visits took place for a range of conditions that, without the clinic, would have gone untreated until they became far more serious, and the records show 125 cases of severe malnutrition receiving medical care. Some 175 Nawur patients were referred to other health facilities for more specialized treatment.

The local people have realized the clinic’s value – more women and babies are surviving – and they are determined not to give it up.

Women take the lead

Inspired by the example of the founder and president of the Nai Qala Association, the women of Sokhtagi have created a women’s council.

Impressed by the fact that an Afghan woman could lead a project in their area and inspired by the founder and president of the Nai Qala Association, women have decided to take their fate into their own hands.

During fall 2017, the women in the village of  Sokhtagi created the “Women’s Council Association”. This is the first council of this type not only in the village and in the district, but certainly also throughout the province of Bamyan.

The goal of a women’s council is to provide a forum for discussion where everyone can share their ideas in confidence. Women are aware that if they want to be able to participate in decisions, they must be clear and precise in their demands. Women’s health and literacy are part of the council’s priorities.

Creation of the council

A few months ago Momena, a fifty-something, illiterate mother of seven, grandmother and shepherd’s wife had the vision of creating a women’s council to answer their specific problems. This need to assemble women was based on the observation that a group has more weight than an isolated individual; with this idea in mind, Momena started to bring women together.

The President of the Nai Qala Association’s first visit to Sokhtagi was a trigger for Momena. She accompanied the President in each of the meetings with the community and was inspired by Taiba Rahim’s leadership and the tasks that were distributed to the community.

One of the tasks entrusted to the community was to prepare the ground for the construction of the school. Momena took it upon herself to go door to door, and collect money to rent the bulldozer that would allow the community to prepare the ground. Thanks to her persuasiveness, Momena was able to collect the financing on her own. This first success allowed her not only to gain the community’s recognition and the men’s respect but also to send a strong message to the women, so that they joined her in her project.

During Nai Qala President’s visit in December 2017, the women discussed the statutes and elected the committee members of the newly created association. Momena hired some students from Sokhtagi school as treasurer, spokesperson or secretary of the new council association.

A source of motivation

The construction of a school by the Nai Qala Association brings a village not only development opportunities for children but also strength and confidence to the community, especially for women.

Momena expressed gratitude to Taiba Rahim, President of the Nai Qala Association: “Thank you for bringing change to our village. Your presence among us, the way you speak to men means a lot to us. It encourages me to convince women to join.”

We have seen a greater participation of women in Nai Qala projects than in any other similar project in the region. The women have seen that Nai Qala’s projects are proposed and led by a woman, which makes all the difference for them. This gives them more strength and self-confidence.

 

Thanks to Nai-Qala, girls can benefit from capacity-building course during the winter

For the duration of the winter capacity building course, some girls are living in host families’homes. 

In mid-December, Nai Qala teacher-trainers travelled to the village of Zeera Gag, where the Nai Qala Association built a school in 2015, to launch a new course of capacity building.

Nai Qala had already run this program in the village of Zeera Gag last winter, during the school holidays. It was meant for over 200 girls. But gradually the numbers of girls reduced every week; indeed,  many girls were living in the remote villages where there are high risks of snow avalanche and tough weather condition. All the girls who could not attend the course were very sad.

This summer, many determined parents who shared their daughters’ disappointment, approached families who live near the school of Zeera Gag. Many families agreed to have a girl live with them for a period of 3 months, the duration of the capacity building course. In return, these parents have agreed to give host families some wheat or cheese.

Just in the last few weeks before the start of the course, over 10 girls between age 16 and 18 were already living in their new houses, impatiently waiting for the Nai Qala teachers to arrive, and to benefit from the course.

For this year, the course is planned for 160 girls.

To know more on the capacity building project, click here.

Creating job opportunities

Nai Qala early childhood education program provides young local people with job opportunities 

Zewar graduated from the school in Nai Qala in 2012 and she studied at the university for four years. Now she is back in her village and she’s leading the early childhood education program for youngsters. Zewar is proud of her role and speaks with love and patience. She received special training in early childhood education with the support of Agha Khan Foundation in Kabul.

Zewar understands the importance of the early childhood education program to the children of her region. She and her colleague, who also went to university thanks to the education received in a Nai Qala school, know that children need more than just reading and writing.