A pregnant girl arriving at a health clinic. There is no other place for her to go. If her father or brothers learn that she is pregnant, they will kill her. This is an example of situations Marie Stopes International deals with daily.
The status of women and girls is particularly poor in Afghanistan. Often women are not allowed to leave their homes to seek medical help without a male escort. The organisation has trained hundreds of women to work in the health sector and as volunteers. The volunteers go from door to door so that women can get information and basic health services even if they cannot travel to a health clinic.
Marie Stopes International has been working in Afghanistan since 2002. By 2017 altogether 3.8 million patients, nearly all of them women, have visited its clinics. While family planning and contraception are still taboos in the conservative and deeply religious country, Marie Stopes International has already been able to help 1.4 million people in its family planning clinics because the organisation collaborates with religious leaders. Its other achievements are that now children are learning about sexual and reproductive health at school and the Afghanistan Government is promoting the realisation of sexual and reproductive rights. Finland has been supporting Marie Stopes International from development cooperation funds since 2003.
Photo: Marie Stopes International, graphics: Juho Hiilivirta