The maternal mortality rate in Afghanistan is the second highest in the world, with 1,700 women dying per 100,000 births and with women giving birth to an average of seven children. While some restrictions on healthcare providers disappeared with the end of Taliban rule, many women are still forced to allow their male relatives to make decisions about their reproductive health. Most Afghan hospitals won’t operate on a woman without the approval of her father or husband.
However, women are slowly receiving better health care under the interim government in Kabul. More women come to hospitals in Afghanistan seeking gynecological health care. The World Health Organization has seen success with its contraception campaign, which has proved enormously popular with women.
Women’s continued access to health care depends in large part on the presence of clinics and healthcare facilities. Therefore the US and UN must provide humanitarian aid and support the Afghan Ministry for Women’s Affairs, which is working to establish crucial legal advocacy, education, vocational training, and women’s health programs necessary to begin to undue the devastation caused by the Taliban regime and 23 years of unending war.