Afghan women play a key role in humanitarian action


Since Saturday, Terre des hommes’ midwives, female doctors and social workers have been prevented from working in Afghanistan, following the decision of the Kabul authorities to ban all activities carried out by female NGO staff. In the middle of winter, the Swiss organisation fears the worst for the health of thousands of mothers, children and newborns. Terre des hommes is launching an urgent appeal for the continued participation of Afghan women in humanitarian action in this country where women in need of care are not allowed to be looked after by men. 

The Swiss organisation for children's aid Terre des hommes (Tdh) is very concerned about the decision of the Taliban in Afghanistan to ban female aid workers from working. Out of Afghanistan's 40 million inhabitants, some 28 million people depend on humanitarian aid, most of them women and children. The health risks for women and children in the country are enormous if activities are stopped, even more during the winter period. Female Tdh staff are often the only contact allowed with pregnant women or young mothers by male relatives, especially in remote villages. 

"This decision worsens the already dramatic situation of women in the country and reinforces their isolation in an alarming way. We are extremely concerned. Afghan women humanitarians play a vital role in addressing the plight of mothers. Afghanistan needs these active and committed women! They take care of the health of thousands of newborns with incomparable expertise", says Barbara Hintermann, General Director of Terre des hommes. 

In 2022, the Afghan midwives employed by the Swiss organisation have helped about 48,000 women and newborns throughout the country. Tdh has been active in Afghanistan for 27 years and currently employs 167 women, some of whom have been working there for over 20 years. All of these professionals are currently prevented from helping the population. They represent 57% of the NGO's staff in the country. 

Tdh participates in the coordination led by the United Nations and the umbrella organisation of International and national NGOs present in Afghanistan and pleads for the withdrawal of a decision that is disastrous for the Afghan population and flouts all humanitarian principles.

The Terre des hommes Foundation (Tdh) is the leading Swiss organisation for children's aid. In 2021, we supported two million children and members of their communities around the world with a focus on mother and child health, migration and access to justice for children. We trained people who in turn supported a further 3.1 million children and members of their communities.. 

Crédit photo: ©Tdh

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