The crisis in Afghanistan continues to threaten women, girls and families.
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The crisis in Afghanistan has reached a critical stage, putting women and girls at risk. We’re supporting organizations engaging in humanitarian aid, centering women and mothers.
The Taliban takeover in Afghanistan has escalated. Women across Afghanistan—especially women’s rights advocates—are terrified they will lose hard-won rights to health care, family planning services, employment and basic freedoms to leave their homes and access services.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Afghanistan has one of the worst maternal mortality rates in the world, with 638 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. And, early reports indicate that the already fragile health system is collapsing due to a freeze on foreign aid, resulting in lack of access to essential supplies and medicines. New rules under the Taliban also threaten women’s rights activists, create barriers for female healthcare workers to attend work, and create risks for male doctors seeing female patients.
Approximately 61 percent of maternal deaths take place in countries experiencing humanitarian crises. In keeping with our mission, Every Mother Counts supports groups operating in crises and conflict zones by issuing emergency grants where and when they are needed.
In response to the unfolding crisis and the dire need to protect and evacuate women and mothers in the country right now, Every Mother Counts has issued grants to three organizations Women for Women International, Too Young to Wed, y el International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF). These organizations are working alongside small local NGOs and the international community to support women and girls in Afghanistan, and their urgent work is saving lives.
Since 1993, Women for Women International has provided women survivors of war and conflict with skills and support to rebuild their lives, their families, and their communities. Over the past few weeks, Women for Women International has been working tirelessly to protect their staff and evacuate at-risk women’s rights activists from Afghanistan. They are also supplying women with solar–powered phones and providing referrals to psychosocial support for women who remain in the country.
Both Too Young to Wed and IWMF have been working with local women’s networks in Afghanistan to provide relief to women and girls and arrange safe evacuation, including providing travel assistance and basic necessities. While initially supporting air evacuations of women and families, including female journalists and activists, they have had to pivot to smaller, more covert safe–passage missions through ground transportation to bordering countries.
In the face of enormous challenges, the dedication of Too Young to Wed, Women for Women International and IWMF reminds us that–even in the worst crises– committed organizations are working to protect the dignity and safety of women and mothers.
According to an early report to Every Mother Counts:
“Today, we successfully evacuated a group of 45 people to Pakistan, who will then go on to Albania with visas. On this convoy, we have a female member of the Afghan National assembly, three prosecutors, a doctor, seven journalists, a social worker, two government employees, a doctoral student in the US, a tech entrepreneur, the Gender Officer at the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan, and the dean of a law school, all of whom have received threats. Tonight, they arrived in Peshawar and we were able to provide them with a KFC dinner (their specific request!), chocolate-filled cupcakes for the kids. We also were able to get medical checkups for one of the babies who had been ill, and a pregnant woman on the journey. They will then be moving on to Islamabad and staying comfortably at the Sheraton until they leave for Albania in a few days.
More details to come, when they are rested and ready to share their experiences. In the meantime, we hope they sleep soundly tonight, knowing they are safe and for the first time in a long, terrible month for the Afghan people.”
-Too Young to Wed
As the crisis continues to unfold in Afghanistan, we will continue to monitor the opportunity for impact and will stay in touch with these incredible groups.
If you would like to donate directly to these organizations during this urgent moment in Afghanistan, please find their websites here: Women for Women International, Too Young to Wed and International Women’s Media Foundation.
Donate directly to Too Young to Wed & IWMF.
Due to the urgent nature of this emergency, we encourage direct donations to our partners to ensure an immediate flow of funds. Should you wish to donate through Every Mother Counts, you can do so here.
Photo credit: Wakil Kohsar/AFP/Getty Images