The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women began on November 25, launching 16 days of activism, and the UN reproductive health agency (UNFPA) is urging humanitarian partners to respond to the 9 million women who are in need of protection in the current severe situation in Afghanistan.
“Even before the recent upheaval, the needs of women and girls were staggering: Over half of Afghan women experience violence during their lifetime, and one Afghan woman dies from a pregnancy-related complication every two hours,” said Dr. Aleksandar Sasha Bodiroza, UNFPA Representative in Afghanistan.
“Their situation will get worse if the international community does not act, and act soon,” he added.
The UNFPA in a report cited its partner UNOCHA as saying that nearly 80 percent of the 670,000 internally displaced people in Afghanistan are women and children.
“Over 97,000 women and girls, men and boys accessed services in October 2021 through 171 Family Health Houses, 20 mobile health teams, four emergency clinics, and other delivery points across the country. UNFPA is scaling up efforts and expanding its bases to reach more people,” the report said.
The organization said that it supported some health facilities in maintaining their services, including obstetric care for the estimated 21,500 pregnant women.
“We continue to support efforts that ensure women and girls can give birth safely and live free from violence,” said Dr. Bodiroza. “The human rights and dignity of all Afghan people, especially women and girls, must be protected and respected if we are to maintain the gains made over the past two decades.”
The report voiced concerns over the humanitarian crisis looming in Afghanistan ahead of a “harsh winter”.
“Afghan women must also be on the frontline of humanitarian aid efforts and continue to provide services for vulnerable women and girls who remain deeply reliant on services provided by other women,” the report added.