Afghanistan: An escalating crisis for women and girls

Afghanistan remains in the throes of a deep economic and humanitarian crisis. Soaring food and fuel prices have left an estimated 95 percent of the population on the brink of starvation, and caused unprecedented levels of malnutrition, including among pregnant women.

As the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate, there are alarming disruptions to women and girls’ access to basic health services, with potentially catastrophic consequences.

The country remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to give birth, with a woman dying every two hours during pregnancy or childbirth. The estimated 24,000 women who give birth each month in hard-to-reach areas of the country face particular challenges in accessing hospitals or health facilities. Vital services for survivors of gender-based violence are also limited following the dissolution of dedicated reporting pathways, justice mechanisms and shelters, as women and girls face rising levels of domestic violence, abuse and exploitation.

UNFPA has increased its presence across the country and is working with our national partners to scale up the provision of lifesaving reproductive health services and psychosocial support for women, by women. Our 195 Family Health Houses, staffed by community midwives, support safe births in some of the most remote areas. Mobile health teams travel around villages in 13 provinces screening mothers, pregnant women and children for malnutrition and providing maternal and child health care. Family protection centres located in provincial and district-level government hospitals provide free, confidential health and psychosocial counselling services for survivors of violence.

As winter approaches – and as needs continue to rise – UNFPA’s response will continue to prioritize the continuity of essential reproductive health and protection services for women and girls.

Updated on 18 August 2022