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Engaging Women Civil Society in Family Planning Through Workshops

3 January 2018
ENGAGING WOMEN CIVIL SOCIETY IN FAMILY PLANNING THROUGH WORKSHOPS
In spite of significant progress on reduction of maternal and child mortality, Afghanistan is still among the countries with the  highest maternal and child mortality rate. Average family size is high and modern contraceptive use is rather low. Family planning is one of the most cost effective interventions to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity. Family planning services contribute in reduction of maternal and child mortality which is the priority of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. 
Considering the influence of women civil society in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) in partnership with Ministry of Women Affairs (MOWA) by UNFPA support, organized one-day orientation and sensitization workshop on 18 Dec 2017 for 90 women civil society leaders of Kabul, Parwan, Panjshir, Logar and Kapisa provinces. The purpose of this workshop was to sensitize the civil society members on family planning to advocate for FP promotion and to include the Family Planning in their advocacy agenda as a lifesaving and women empowerment intervention. Similar workshops conducted in other provinces during the 2017 for 340 Women Civil society leaders, Journalists and Youth activists. During these workshops the role of FP in women and children health, women empowerment, FP from Islam point of view, and the role of women civil society and media in promotion of FP, and also the benefits and side effects of contraceptives were discussed in details. 
Spozhmai Wardak, the Deputy Minister of Ministry of Women Affairs inaugurated the 18 Dec 2017 workshop and emphasized on role of Family Planning in women empowerment, health and wellbeing, and asked the women civil society members to share what they learned in this workshop with their civil society and put Family Planning in their advocacy agenda. Also, she encouraged UNFPA to support the women civil societies to conduct awareness campaign in their communities. 
Dr. Najia Tariq, the Family Planning Trainer, explained all methods of family planning and the use of contraceptives in detail. 
 
CIVIL WOMEN ADVOCATE FOR FAMILY PLANNING:
 
Farzana, from remote village of Istalif of Kabul, a mother of 2 healthy children in her 27 years’ old, leading a local women committee in her village, appreciates family planning program: “The use of contraceptives is a better way to manage our lives and take care of our children in its best; especially in this low financial situation of our country.” Her life is a good example of family planning; she has completed her education and plays an active role as head of her village committee to improve the life of other women. She has been using contraceptives since after giving birth to her first child, 7 years old. Her second child is a 9 months baby (Omar). 
“This workshop has given me a clear idea about the contribution of contraceptives and family planning methods on women empowerment, healthy family, and FP from Islam point of view which can help me encourage and convince other women and families that there is no danger and sin in its use, now I can address the women concern about FP from Islam point of view. Therefore, all these information helps me promote FP in my community and correct the myths and rumors about FP out there.” Says Farzana. 
 
Masuma Sakhi, Head of Women Council in Shakar Dara District of Kabul province, at her 58 complained about the past social and cultural situation in Afghanistan and the ignorant residents of Shakar Dara. She will try to conduct such awareness assemblies in her village for illiterate women to inform them about family planning benefits. She said: “The people living in Shakar Dara think that the use of contraceptives make the women infertile and eradicates our next generation. Also, they believe that the prevention of pregnancy by using medicine is a sin; therefore, most of the women are not using contraceptives or are prohibited by their husbands or mother in law to use it. The details about benefits of FP I learned from this workshop helps me to answer women questions and encourage them to use Family Planning services to have better life and healthy children.”