New Age Islam
Mon Nov 30 2020, 09:29 PM

Islam, Women and Feminism ( 11 Sept 2018, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Turkish First Lady Receives Humanitarian Service Award

















Turkey's first lady Emine Erdoğan

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Zakira or a Female Reciter and Preacher, Shyrose Jaffer Dhalla in Mumbai to Convey the Message of Muharram

Kulsoom Nawaz Death: Former Pakistani First Lady Dies in London

Various Women Sectors Participated In Protests in Tehran, Other Cities

Nasrin Sotoudeh Protests Execution of Kurdish Political Prisoners

Malala Expresses Condolence on Kulsoom Nawaz’s Death

Student Killed in Twin Bomb Attack near Afghan Girls' School

UAE to host Forum of Arab Women’s Council

Under Maya Morsi's Chairmanship, Women’s Rights Seminar in Geneva Takes Off

Five Women among 6 Come Under Acid Attack in Lahore

She Saved A Pregnant Woman’s Life And Now Works To Make Childbirth Safer For All Afghan Women

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam,-women-and-feminism/new-age-islam-news-bureau/turkish-first-lady-receives-humanitarian-service-award/d/116356

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Turkish First Lady Receives Humanitarian Service Award

11.09.2018

Turkey's First Lady Emine Erdogan on Tuesday received an award at an international forum in London in recognition of her humanitarian services.

“Turkish nation is a philanthropic nation with a deep-rooted history of charitable foundations,” she said, in her acceptance speech after receiving the Humanitarian Service Recognition Award at the Global Donors Forum.

She said Turkey was extending a helping hand to millions of refugees across the world.

“Turkey is the largest donor of humanitarian aid in the world as a ratio of its gross national income,” the first lady said.

"I receive ‘The Humanitarian Service Recognition Award’ on behalf of such a noble nation which represents the conscience of humanity.

“The true recipient of this meaningful award which I am honored to accept is my country, my state and my nation which respond to any cry for help no matter where it comes from and regardless of religion, language or race!”

She highlighted the atrocities committed against people across the world.

“Let us pay tribute to all the downtrodden who are oppressed in Yemen, Syria, Bangladesh, Gaza and, in particular, to our most beloved Jerusalem!

“I would like to cordially salute the other half of our hearts; my brothers and sisters from Pakistan, Malaysia, Bosnia and Sudan.”

Celebrating diversity

She said Muslims were known for embracing differences and celebrating diversity.

“We are united in our joy and sorrow. When one of us is hurt, the rest of us also feel the pain. We are like parts of the same body. Any kind of suffering in one part of the world tears us apart and breaks our heart,” she added.

“You endeavor to be the voice of compassion and conscience in a world where capitalism has numbed the human soul.

“I know that your noble souls that strive to shoulder the burden of humanity as a whole have been forged with philanthropic sentiments.

“The world desperately needs such efforts, especially in recent years.”

Underlining the anniversary of 9/11, which “set the scene for the clash of civilizations”, she said “since 2001, the Middle East in particular has become the land of suffering and tears".

“Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria ceased to be the cradle of ancient civilizations and, instead, became the scene of suffering where innocent children fight for survival in the shadow of weapons.

She spoke about the pain inflicted on the Rohingya community.

“I visited Myanmar myself; the humanitarian tragedy there is one of the most disgraceful atrocities of the 21st century.

“I think I will never forget what I witnessed there for the rest of my life. To this day, I feel the pain of the suffering of women in Myanmar in my soul,” she added.

“Similarly, the modern world is unfortunately deaf to the cries of the Palestinian or Yemeni women while the scars of colonialism in Africa are yet to heal.

“The voice of honorable endeavors is unfortunately not loud enough in a world rife with genocide, rape and discrimination.”

Syria

Turkish first lady also spoke of the Syrian civil war and said “thousands of people lost their lives in the war in Syria since it started eight years ago.”

“Millions have been displaced. Unfortunately, a common will to end this war is nowhere to be found.

“The responsibility that had to be shouldered by the entire world has been delegated to a handful of countries to bear. Turkey is one of those countries.

“We are hosting 3.5 million refugees in our country. They will be part of our family till the day their country becomes prosperous again.”

Erdogan said the World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists “gives hope to the women in Africa, the children in the Middle East and the oppressed".

“You shake the silent hearts and rusty conscience of those who have become mute in face of such suffering. I believe that your efforts are more effective than tanks and missiles.”

She underlined that “philanthropy is not just about showing mercy or providing financial assistance” but “also about striving to establish a fair and just order and pursuing compassionate policies".

“It is about enabling social justice and equal opportunity. It is about protecting the right to life of children and providing them opportunities in education,” she said.

“Philanthropy is about caring for the environment and respecting animal rights as much as it is about the problems of humanity.

“In a nutshell, it is living up to being the noblest of all creatures; it is what makes us human!”

'Right is might'

Erdogan said she hoped to “come together in many other productive meetings which will contribute to the establishment of a world order where right makes might and not the other way around.”

She said she is proud to see “two respectable Turkish institutions receiving awards in this ceremony.”

“I would like to congratulate Turkish Airlines and the Turkish Red Crescent,” she said.

Turkish Airlines and Turkish Red Crescent were also presented recognition awards for their contributions to humanitarian aid distribution around the globe.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/turkish-first-lady-receives-humanitarian-service-award/1252441

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Zakira or a Female Reciter and Preacher, Shyrose Jaffer Dhalla in Mumbai to Convey the Message of Muharram

Sep 12, 2018

MUMBAI: Canada-based Zakira Shyrose Jaffer Dhalla could have become a singer or a psychology teacher. But she chose a less-trodden path to become a Zakira or a female reciter and preacher who keeps her audience enchanted with stories from the battle of Karbala. It was fought in 680AD between the army of the tyrannical ruler Yazid and Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Imam Hussain and his small group of supporters.

Imam Hussain was martyred in Muharram, which begins on Wednesday, and Dhalla has flown in to hold a series of Muharram majlises. “I speak about the actual tragedy just for 10 minutes in my hour-long recitation. The rest is about what we can learn from it and why humanity owes a lot to the Imam who refused to bow down to a tyrannical king and upheld peace, justice and truth,” says Dhalla, a popular face on the global Muharram majlis reciters’ list. She has been invited to Mumbai by Khoja Shia Isna Ashari Jamat.

Growing up in the West though her grandfather migrated to Tanzania from Gujarat and his parents moved to Canada from Dar es Salam, Dhalla speaks fluent English, Urdu and Gujarati. Besides Muharram lectures, she also speaks on Islam at mosques, churches and synagogues.

Though in Mumbai her audience is women, she says men have played a big role in making her into a globe-trotting zakira.

“First, it was my father who backed me and then my husband,” says the mother of three. Her doctor husband was initially reluctant to allow her to be so frequently out of home delivering lectures. “Then, I told him how the Prophet encouraged his daughter Fatima to get empowered with knowledge. Now, from booking my flight tickets to finalizing my itinerary, he does everything for me,” she smiles. “He is happy when strangers tell him they are happy with my work.”

Mumbai’s multiculturalism fascinates the preacher. “It is so nice to see Hindus preparing to celebrate Ganpati festival, Christians the Mount Mary Fair and Muslims commemorating the Karbala trag-edy in Muharram. India is a co-nfluence of so many cultures, religions and languages,” she says. “I am pleased to hear the azaan in mosques and see aarti in temples. Our Prophet emphasised the idea of co-existence and tolerance when he signed the Medina covenant with non-Muslims. Which is why I am dismayed that the new government in Pakistan has dropped an economist as its advisor because he happens to be an Ahmadia. They have confused culture with religion.”

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/in-city-to-convey-the-message-of-muharram/articleshow/65775982.cms

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Kulsoom Nawaz Death: Former Pakistani First Lady Dies in London

Sep 12, 2018

Kulsoom Nawaz, the wife of Pakistan’s former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, has died in hospital in London after months in critical condition.

Maryam Aurangzeb, spokeswoman for the Pakistan Muslim League party, said Ms Nawaz had died before dawn on Tuesday, aged 68.

“We announce with pain, sorrow and grief that Kulsoom Nawaz is no more among us,” she added.

She said arrangements were being made to transport Nawaz’s body to Pakistan for burial.

Shortly after the announcement of her death, Pakistani television showed Sharif’s two sons and other relatives and supporters standing grimly outside the London hospital and receiving condolences.

Pakistan's prime minister Imran Khan, president Arif Alvi, army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, and political leaders including political rival and former president, Asif Zardari, expressed their sorrow over Nawaz’s death and conveyed their sympathy to her family.

“She was a courageous woman of great dignity and confronted her disease with fortitude,” Mr Khan said on Twitter.

Imran Khan

@ImranKhanPTI

 Sad to learn of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz's death. She was a courageous woman of great dignity and confronted her disease with fortitude. My condolences and prayers go to the Sharif family.

6:10 PM - Sep 11, 2018

Nawaz had been suffering from throat cancer and she underwent surgery last year, having been diagnosed only a month after her husband was removed from office by the supreme court. Her condition deteriorated some months ago and she had been in a coma since.

Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz were not present in London at the time of her death because both have been in prison in Pakistan since July when they returned home to serve their sentences in corruption cases.

Three-time premier Sharif stepped down after the Supreme Court disqualified him from holding office last year for concealing his assets abroad. Later, he was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison over the family’s purchase of luxury apartments in London.

Sharif appeared in court in Islamabad on Tuesday. He has applied for bail but a court is still to rule on his request. The government is likely to release Sharif and his daughter on parole to participate in Nawaz’s funeral, which has not yet been scheduled.

Mourners have started gathering outside Sharif’s residence in the eastern city of Lahore.

Nawaz was briefly a member of parliament after she won her husband’s former seat in a by-election after the Supreme Court disqualified him, and served as president of the Pakistan Muslim League for three years.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/kulsoom-nawaz-death-dies-pakistan-first-lady-nawaz-sharif-london-a8532881.html

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Various Women Sectors Participated In Protests in Tehran, Other Cities

12 September 2018

Various women sectors participated in protest rallies in Tehran, Mashhad, Yazd and Sarpol-e Zahab.

On Tuesday, September 11, 2018, various women sectors participated in the protests of retirees in Tehran, Mashhad and Yazd.

In Tehran, retirees of nursing, paramedics and health, as well as retirees of agriculture, banking and education, protested against the grim situation of their livelihood in front of the Planning and Budget Organization building. The protesters chanted, "The poverty line is 5 million (rials), our salary is 2 million (rials),” and "Our salary is in rials, the prices are in dollars."

In Mashhad, the Civil Servants Pension Fund (C.S.P.F) retirees gathered in response to a previous call to protest against their poor livelihoods.

In Yazd, the Civil Servants Pension Fund (C.S.P.F) retirees and nursing pioneers gathered in protest in front of the city’s Management and Planning Organization. Retired teachers and educators also participated in this protest.

Also on Monday, September 10, 2018, various women sectors participated in protests in the cities of Mashhad and Sarpol-e Zahab.

A group of men and women plundered by the Caspian Credit Institute affiliated with the IRGC, held a protest rally in front of the Institute’s Pamchal branch in Mashhad.

In another protest movement, women participated alongside men in the earthquake-stricken village of Bi Bayan, in Sarpol-e Zahab, who gathered in front of the Governorate of Kermanshah to protest against the drought crisis in the village and the lack of accountability of government officials.

In August, widespread protests in various cities throughout Iran were held in protest to the devastating crisis of the lack of drinking water in Iran, with thousands of women taking part in the protests.

Various women sectors participated in at least 390 protest rallies between March and August. This represents an almost double-fold increase in the average number of protests per month compared to last year's 426 protests from March 2017 to March 2018, where Iranian women actively participated.

https://women.ncr-iran.org/iran-women-news/5465-various-women-sectors-participated-in-protests-in-tehran-other-cities

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Nasrin Sotoudeh Protests Execution of Kurdish Political Prisoners

12 September 2018

In a letter from Evin Prison, human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh protested the execution of the three Kurdish political prisoners, Ramin Hossein Panahi, Zaniar Moradi and Loghman Moradi, and extended condolences to their families.

In her letter, Nasrin Sotoudeh wrote:

"Again, on the anniversary of the 1988massacre, the Iranian judicial system executed three Kurdish compatriots, who for decades, have been subjected to oppression and tyranny. The verdicts of these prisoners --issued in a blatantly illegal procedure by Revolutionary Courts-- were unfair and contrary to human rights and the laws of the Islamic Republic of Iran. At the same time, the case of at least one of them was in the process of revision which could have led to his acquittal.”

Expressing her dismay at the injustice of the judiciary, Nasrin Sotoudeh added, "Zaniar Moradi, Loghman Moradi and Ramin Hossein Panahi were sent to the gallows while they had been on hunger strike and endured many days of hunger. This is yet another testament to the violence inherent in the Iranian judiciary, which is supposed to avoid any form of violence."

Nasrin Sotoudeh concluded, "I send my condolences to my dear Kurdish compatriots, who have always played an important role in promoting Iran’s culture. I extend my condolences to all my compatriots, especially the families of Moradi and Hossein Panahi, and I hope that with due regard to the various aspects of judicial violence which surface in various forms, we can provide the necessary grounds for avoiding all forms of violence."

Previously, human rights activist Atena Daemi and other political prisoners in the Women’s Ward of Evin Prison wrote letters and sent messages commending the resistance of the three Kurdish political prisoners who were executed on September 8, 2018, despite pleas by their mothers  and repeated calls by international human rights advocates and organizations.

https://women.ncr-iran.org/iran-women-news/5464-nasrin-sotoudeh-protests-execution-of-kurdish-political-prisoners

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Malala Expresses Condolence on Kulsoom Nawaz’s Death

September 12, 2018

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani Nobel laureate and education activist, on Tuesday, expressed her condolences to the Sharif family over the demise of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz.

Begum Nawaz, the wife of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, passed away on Tuesday in London after battling cancer. She is survived by her husband and four children; Maryam, Asma, Hassan, and Hussain.

Malala said that she is saddened to hear about the demise of the former First Lady of Pakistan.

“Heartfelt condolences to all her family and prayers for the departed soul. Her political struggle and courage will be remembered,” she tweeted.

Begum Kulsoom was under treatment at London’s Harley Street Clinic since June 2017. She was placed on life support last night as her health deteriorated.

Sources at the clinic said she had developed a complication in her lungs. “She had been responding well without the ventilator until last night,” the sources said.

Begum Kulsoom was diagnosed with lymphoma (throat) cancer in August 2017.

Further, sources at the Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi said former premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter, Maryam Nawaz, and son-in-law, Captain (retd) Safdar, had been informed about Begum Kulsoom’s passing.

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/09/12/malala-expresses-condolence-on-kulsoom-nawazs-death/

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Student Killed in Twin Bomb Attack near Afghan Girls' School

September 11, 2018

A boy was killed and four others wounded in a double bombing outside a school in restive eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday, officials and witnesses said, in the latest violence to hit the country.

The first explosion happened in front of Malika Omaira girls' school in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province, at around 8:30 am (0400 GMT), provincial governor spokesman Ataullah Khogyani told AFP.

A second bomb went off as students from a neighbouring boys' school and locals gathered at the scene, Khogyani added.

Witnesses told AFP the casualties were students from the boys' school.

"We went with other boys to see what had happened after we heard an explosion near the girls' school," 12-year-old Elyas told AFP from his hospital bed.

"Another explosion hit us and I was wounded (in the leg).

"I saw girls crying, rushing out of school. They were all in a panic."

The twin blasts took place an hour after a bomb exploded outside Biba Hawa girls' school in nearby Behsood district, Jalalabad education department spokesman Asif Shinwari said.

Students had not arrived for class and there were no casualties, he added.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the latest attacks in Nangarhar, but the Taliban and the Islamic State group are active in the region.

Both Islamist groups have long opposed female education and have forced the closure of countless girls' schools across Afghanistan.

https://nation.com.pk/11-Sep-2018/student-killed-in-twin-bomb-attack-near-afghan-girls-school

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UAE to host Forum of Arab Women’s Council

September 12, 2018

DUBAI: The UAE will host the 4th Regional Forum of the Arab Women’s Council, under the theme, “The Leading Woman: The Course from Empowerment to Pioneering and Innovation,” from Nov 12 to 14 in Dubai, with the participation of 17 Arab countries and leading Arab government and diplomatic figures and representatives of civil society organisations.

During a press conference held yesterday at its headquarters in Dubai, the council, while announcing the launch of the event said it would be the fourth edition to be held this year, and for the second time in the UAE. It would be held under the patronage of Major General Dr Abdul Quddus Al Obaidly, Chairman of the Emirates Intellectual Property Association and Chairman of the Emirates Strategic Planning and Future Foresight Association, in cooperation with its strategic partner, the Arab Organisation for Social Responsibility, and its media partners, the Women’s News Agency and Dar Al Hilal.

During the conference, a speech was made on behalf of the Chairwoman of the Arab Women’s Council thanking the UAE’s leadership, government and people for hosting the forum, which is part of the council’s role in determining important causes and promoting dialogue and discussion, to create practical solutions to solve relevant issues while highlighting the importance of the leading role of women in the success of the country’s administrative and social development efforts and its search for dignity, justice, fairness, equality, development and leadership.

The forum would present the journey of leading Arab women, from empowerment to entrepreneurship and innovation while affirming that the forum will help plan a strategy to achieve women’s empowerment, due to their ability to work in innovative ways and achieve economic growth by attracting investments. It will also showcase their key role in the decision-making process, their success in attaining leading positions, and their overall efforts in all sectors, she said in conclusion.

http://gulftoday.ae/portal/9569b57d-2223-44d7-ab21-6e552154965d.aspx

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Under Maya Morsi's Chairmanship, Women’s Rights Seminar in Geneva Takes Off

Sep. 12, 2018

GENEVA – 12 September 2018: Seminar on the rights of women in Egypt, Qatar, and Bahrain, which is being held on the margins of the 39th Session of the International Council for Human Rights held in Geneva, Switzerland, has taken off Wednesday. The seminar will be chaired by Dr Maya Morsi, President of the National Council of Women (NCW).

The delegation that will participate in the conference includes a large number of human rights activists and experts, as well as Egyptian media officers, who will present both spoken and written accounts of human rights in Egypt and the Arab region.

The seminar is also set to discuss forced displacement of the Tawargha tribe in Libya and the process of revoking citizenships from the Al Ghufran tribe in Qatar, as well as terrorism and its impact on the human rights situation in Yemen, Syria, Libya, Iraq, and Egypt.

The association and the forum have also organized a stand against terrorism that will take place in front of the Broken Chair in front of the United Nations Office in Geneva.

The delegation will also meet with a number of human rights, development, and forced disappearance rapporteurs, as well as a number of international missions participating in the session.

It is worth noting that this is the second time that the Association of the Egyptian Female Lawyers and the Dialogue for Development and Human Rights Forum participate in the Human Rights Council’s 39th Session. Both entities participated in the 38th session held last June, where they held three seminars on human rights in Egypt and the Arab region.

http://www.egypttoday.com/Article/1/57444/Under-Maya-Morsi-s-Chairmanship-Women%E2%80%99s-Rights-Seminar-in-Geneva

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Five Women among 6 Come Under Acid Attack in Lahore

September 12, 2018

LAHORE – As many as six people received burn injuries when unknown suspects threw acid on them in an area of Lahore on Wednesday, local media reported.

The incident occurred in Manawa in which five women and a man were injured. The victims have been shifted to Mayo Hosptial for treatment.

The accused fled the scene after attacking the group of people, while police have launched investigations into the matter.

In May this year, an incident of acid attack was reported in Green Town area of Lahore, where a girl of Bagrian Stop suffered multiple burns on her face and arms.

An unknown motorcyclist threw acid on the girl before fleeing the scene. The victim had just arrived back home and was on her doorstep when she was targeted.

The girl was rushed to Jinnah hospital with the aid of neighbours where she was shifted to the Burn Unit and doctors at the centre said half of the face of the girl and a major part of her arm had burned.

The girl and her parents said that they were unaware of the identity of the assailant.

https://en.dailypakistan.com.pk/pakistan/five-women-among-6-come-under-acid-attack-in-lahore/

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She Saved A Pregnant Woman’s Life And Now Works To Make Childbirth Safer For All Afghan Women

Sept. 10, 2018

Feroza Mushtari shudders as she remembers when the Taliban took power in Afghanistan.

She was a teenager living in Kabul when the group gained control there in 1996. One day out of the blue, her parents told her she must wear a burqa — a long, loose garment that conceals the shape of women's bodies. They also told her she could no longer go to school. The Taliban had banned education for girls.

"We were suddenly put at home with no hope for the future," she says. "We [almost] went into depression."

Mushtari says empty classrooms led to fewer educated women, and in turn, there were hardly any women working in health care or as midwives.

Before the fall of the Taliban in 2001, there were 467 trained midwives in all of Afghanistan. The country's population at the time was nearly 21 million. Afghanistan's maternal mortality ratio skyrocketed to become the second highest in the world — just shy of Sierra Leone’s.

The Taliban set one more rule: No woman was allowed to leave her house unless accompanied by a male relative. Mushtari says it was exactly in those suffocating days that something happened that propelled her to become a midwife. The events unfolded on a cold, winter night. "Someone knocked on our door. When I opened [it], I saw an old lady with her daughter-in-law."

The younger woman was heavily pregnant and visibly in pain. They were desperately in search of a man who could take her to the hospital. "We didn’t have any male member of our family," Mushtari says. "My father was in Kandahar at that time."

As Mushtari and her mother explained that there were no men in the house, the pregnant woman twisted in pain. Then, she started bleeding. "I still remember the picture. She just fell down, and she sat on the floor and started crying. I [felt] someone is dying in front of me, and I cannot do anything." But Mushtari stayed calm. She took a deep breath and wondered how she could save the woman and her baby. Suddenly, she had an idea: "I put my dad’s woolen hat over my head, and I put his patoo or shawl over my shoulders … to look a little bigger and like a boy."

Mushtari, dressed like a man, left the house with the pregnant woman. She hailed a taxi and sat in the front seat, just like Afghan men did. She told the driver to hurry. "On the way [to the hospital]," she says, "I remember I was practicing [a] boy’s voice in case we were stopped by the Taliban. I [could] hear my heartbeat."

Mushtari says the most stressful taxi ride of her life ended when they safely pulled up to the hospital. She rushed the woman inside, where she received life-saving care. "She had a healthy baby boy. They [called him] 'Feroza' because my name is Feroza. They wanted to value my help." Mushtari says that night, when she saw the smile on the new mother’s face, she made a promise to herself: Going forward, she would dedicate herself to saving mothers' lives.

And she did. The hospital she rushed that young, pregnant woman to is where I meet her on a sunny, spring day.

Busy hospital

The Malalai Maternity Hospital is one of Afghanistan’s oldest, and busiest, health care facilities. Inside the nursery, over a dozen babies are swaddled in colorful blankets. Some lie under incubators that keep them warm. Mushtari has a strong bond with the nursery. "For me, this is a precious place," she says.

Not only did Mushtari save that pregnant woman’s life at this hospital, but she also went on to train to become a midwife here. Today, Mushtari is a star in her profession. She’s the health adviser to Afghanistan’s first lady and a vocal advocate for maternal health in Afghanistan. She says a lot has improved since the days of Taliban rule. For example, today there are about 10,000 midwives in Afghanistan, according to Mushtari. And the country has a Midwives Association and several midwifery programs.

Still, 1 in 14 Afghan women — roughly 7 percent — die of pregnancy-related complications. Women in Afghanistan are 28 times likelier to die from pregnancy complications than in the US. (WHO data from 2015 indicates that in the US, 14 out of every 100,000 women die due to complications of pregnancy and childbirth. That’s compared to 396 women out of the same number in Afghanistan.)

Mushtari says there are several reasons why high maternal deaths persist in Afghanistan. "Sometimes families delay taking a pregnant woman to a hospital or clinic until it’s too late," she explains. "Some men prefer that their wives only be treated by female doctors or midwives, which then limits or delays the kind of care they get."

Then, there are the geographical challenges. Afghanistan is a vast, mountainous country, and in the winter, remote areas get cut off from everything. Many residents in these areas don’t own cars, which makes it extremely difficult to get a woman in labor to the hospital on time.

Workplace security

But one of the biggest hurdles in getting pregnant women the care they need, Mushtari says, is security. The Taliban still controls parts of the country, and they regularly plan attacks on roads. Some of the health clinics are located inside Taliban-controlled areas, making it even harder for women to access them. "It’s also hard to convince midwives — who train in bigger cities and who are often women — to work in areas where there are safety concerns," Mushtari says.

And it’s not just the Taliban. Last July, ISIS attacked a midwife training center in eastern Afghanistan and killed three staff members.

These risks and limitations led the United Nations Population Fund to experiment with a new facility in Afghanistan. It set up the Midwifery Helpline Center, where women — patients or new midwives — from all around the country can call in and ask for help. The center, located at the heart of Kabul, is the size of a small bedroom. Laptops sit on two large desks where a group of midwives wearing headsets take calls around the clock.

Dr. Rona Abidi Shayan, a gynecologist, explains that in the two years since the center became operational, she and her colleagues have responded to 6,000 calls, some of which were emergencies.

“I had a call about a woman who was suffering from eclampsia,” Abidi Shayan says. “The midwife wasn’t sure what to do. I explained to her what medication she should administrate. She did and the woman survived. The patient later came all the way from Takhar Province to Kabul to thank me.”

Abidi Shayan says she has responded to calls from places so remote that she had to look them up on a map. "I am from Afghanistan and before I started working here, I had no idea these places exist,” she says.

The midwives at the call center explain that services like these are helping save women and their newborns in Afghanistan, but they are not a definitive solution to the bigger problems facing the country — war and insecurity.

“In the end, the fight for maternal health can truly be successful if there is peace,” Abidi Shayan adds.

Back at the Malalai Maternity Hospital, I ask Mushtari what could be done to improve midwifery in her country.

“We need to improve the quality of midwifery education and to regularize the profession,” she says.

As for Feroz, the baby she helped deliver, Mushtari says she lost touch with his mother. “But I hope that he is still alive and that his mother told him the story of how she delivered him,” she says.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2018/09/10/woman-midwife-maternity-health-advocate-afghanistan/1257329002/

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