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ABEDA HAYAT, a true beauty queen of Afghanistan

ABEDA HAYAT, a true beauty queen of Afghanistan

Abeda Hayat is a young, talented midwife, working with the Afghan Social Marketing Organization (ASMO) as a community health worker. Qualified and aware of community health problems in Afghanistan, Abeda, took up the challenge of reducing the barriers to accessing health provisions and information by Afghan women in particular, to help them adopt healthy behaviors. The pregnancy-related mortality ratio and underfive mortality rate in Afghanistan are among the world’s highest. Yet, few opportunities exist for Afghan women to engage on health topics such as family planning, maternal and child health (MCH). Beauty parlors represent a unique space as an important part of daily life where women can freely gather and exchange information. ASMO is implementing an innovative pilot in Kabul training beauty parlor staff to deliver FP and MCH information and educational materials to their clients, under USAID-funded global Sustaining Health Outcomes through the Private Sector SHOPS Plus project which harnesses public-private engagement to improve health outcomes in family planning, HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health.

Abeda provides supportive supervision to nearly 198 beauty parlors, located in middle and lower middle-income neighborhoods of Kabul, with an average of 2-3 staff, catering to 5-8 customers per day. On daily basis, she conducts routine monitoring visits to assess staff/client interactions and provide supportive supervision to the trained parlor staff and owners. “I am happy that my work is not only helping the clients of the beauty parlors to learn about family planning, mother and child health and their reproductive rights but also the parlor staff who feel enlightened and empowered to make better choices for themselves while serving their clients beyond the beauty and haircare” – feels Abeda. It is women like Abeda, who are the true beauty queens of Afghanistan, despite serious sociocultural restrictions, transforming the communities, to achieve better health for a better future.

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