Afghanistan has been devastated by decades of war. While the country is on the road to recovery since the fall of the Taliban, women and children continue to bear the brunt. Maternal mortality is among the highest in the world, as unattended births and lack of care pose a high risk for mothers and their babies. Many women die due to pregnancy-related causes.
The presence of qualified midwives is essential in making childbirths safer. Women’s empowerment and strengthening health systems go hand in hand. In turn, empowered midwives with greater capacities make a positive impact on women’s health by allowing safe delivery and better pre- and postnatal care.
Sediqa, a trained midwife, successfully helped deliver the first baby at AfD’s Comprehensive Health Center in May 2016. Not only has she helped deliver many babies safely from then on, but she has proven great strength throughout her life and career.
Sediqa is 24 years old and comes from the province of Logar, just south of Kabul. She recalls the beauty of her profession and those unforgettable moments: “I feel so happy when I see mothers and their children safe and healthy, it’s the best feeling ever, seeing the happiness in the mothers’ eyes when they hold their newborn babies”.
Afghanistan faces a severe shortage of female health workers and sadly, Sediqa’s success remains unusual among Afghan women of modest origins and conservative backgrounds. Achieving her dream required great amount of resilience and tenacity. “I came from a humble family in which my father is the only breadwinner,” she says.
“It was a great challenge to join the Midwifery Institution after I completed high school. My family had completely rejected the idea. Studying in the Midwifery Institution would add to the burden of our financial situation, which was already precarious. Also, the institution was far from our residence and the commute was dangerous.”
Despite her family’s initial opposition, Sediqa convinced them to allow her to attend the program. “My passion for midwifery was stronger than my difficult circumstances: I insisted to pursue my goal and managed to re-enter classes and finish my studies.”
Sediqa subsequently joined AfD’s midwife training project in order to stay updated with new health and treatment innovations and guidelines related to maternal, pre and post-natal care. While continuing to assist births at the health centre, she has recently completed a training program for community health workers, whose aim is to train additional health staff and pass on knowledge to communities in remote areas that are most in need.
“The program was very informative and I learned many new practices and ideas that have enhanced and refined my knowledge. I’m really proud of my profession as a midwife, which I love. I’ll continue to spread my message and provide services to women in need.”