The State of the World's Children, Statistical Tables, UNICEF, 2011
The State of the World's Mothers, 2011, Save the Children
Save the Children Chart: US Spending on Humanitarian Assistance vs.Military vs. All
Veil of Tears: Afghans' Stories of Loss in Childbirth
The Problems of Aid Work in Afghanistan: Afghanistan: Humanitarianism Unraveled, by Antonio Donini.
IRIN-Humanitarian News and Analysis from the UN
In Afghanistan: Rage at Young Lovers--Father says "Kill Them Both"—NYT Article
When Women Set Themselves on Fire—Time Magazine
Stop Women Being Given as Compensation—Human Rights Watch
Afghan Women Hiding for Their Lives—CNN
Women For Afghan Women
Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA)
Helping Children in the US: www.radiodownshound.com
The Condition of Afghan Children and Women
The UN metrics for Afghanistan are dismal, particularly relating to children and women. To begin with, Afghanistan ranks second worst in the world for under-5 mortality1. Almost 1 out of 4 Afghan children will die before their fifth birthday2. And over the past 40 years, while many developing nations were improving their infant mortality by a factor of 5 or more, Afghanistan, mired in seemingly endless war, hardly improved in this area3.
Those children who make it past 5 can expect to live on a gross national income of $310 per capita4, 36% of whom will live below the poverty line5 until they die at an average age of 446.
And if they happen to be women, their prospects are particularly dismal. Currently, 1 in 11 Afghan women can expect to die during childbirth7. (36). Youth literacy rates are 49% for boys and only18% for girls8.
The qualitative aspects of an Afghan woman's life are equally distressing. In many parts of the country women are simply treated as "property." They will belong to their father and brothers until, without their effective consent, they become the property of their arranged husband's family. Sometimes they are given away as compensation for the crimes of their family.9 And there is still the occasional stoning carried out in rural Afghanistan—that's right—stoning, as in rocks.
Save the Children simply ranks Afghanistan, the worst place in the world to be a mother, in its 2011 report, State of the World's Mothers10. Nonetheless, Afghan moms do pretty much all the household work, and significantly for ACP, about all of the childrearing. Whenever we give a toy or gift to an Afghan girl, we try and make sure we also give enough for all her brothers, otherwise she will likely have hers taken away and given to the boys.
Certainly, Afghan women have much to cause them deapair. An alarming number of them choose suicide as a way to escape the misery and brutality of their lives11. Some estimates place the number of women who burn themselves to death at over 200 per year. We have personally seen a number of these severely disfigured women who managed to live.
But amidst all the misery, one thing we notice is how stoic and brave Afghan children and women can be. And of course, they make up more than half of the population of Afghainstan. Already, in the more progressive parts of the country, we see young people hungring for the ways of the "West," and girls from our literacy classes repeatedly write to us thanking us simply, "for helping us to be like girls in other parts of the world."
So amidst all the gloom, we at least see hope that these future generations of Afghans can really change things here. And that is why we get so excited by helping them and making them our friends. What we at ACP do is very small—after all, our budget isn't even a fraction of the cost of one Cruise Missile—but we know that what we do, making strategically placed friends in this region, will pay good dividends far into the future.
Notes: 1The State of the World's Children, Statistical Tables, UNICEF, November 2011 at 8, available at: http://www.unicef.org/sowc2011/pdfs/SOWC-2011-Statistical-tables_12082010.pdf; 2Id.; 3Id.; 4The World Bank Facts, available at: http://data.worldbank.org/country/afghanistan; 5Id.; 6See Note 1 at 30; 7Id. at 36; 8Id. At 24.; 9Human Rights Watch: Afghanistan: Stop Women Being Given as Compensation, available at: http://www.hrw.org/news/2011/03/08/afghanistan-stop-women-being-given-compensation; 10Save the Children, 2011 State of the World's Mothers, available at: http://www.savethechildren.org/site/c.8rKLIXMGIpI4E/b.6748295/k.BE47/State_of_the_Worlds_Mothers_2011_Statistics_and_Facts.htm; 11When Women Set Themselves on Fire—Time Magazine Article, available at: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2002340,00.html