The story of Najiba: Fighting for a place in a male dominated world

Najiba*, 27, has been taking care of patients in one of Kabul province’s hospitals for about seven years. Her family's life has been full of ups and downs, and she is currently the only person in a family of five who works. She lost her father when she was 5, and since then, without her father’s support, she has been fighting for survival and is responsible for financially supporting her mother and siblings. 

After finishing high school, Najiba studied nursing for two years, despite many difficulties. Most of her family members were opposed to her working after graduation, but she did not give up. Najiba shared, "my family did not want me to work. My brothers even beat me several times. I never gave up, because I had to work to cover my family's expenses."  In the face of opposition, Najiba began working as a nurse in a rural district of Kabul province.

Nursing was a big step towards Najiba's dream of studying midwifery – a dream that became a reality when she was awarded a CARE scholarship in 2018, after applying and completing an exam. She is currently in her final year of study at a private university. CARE’s Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment Program (GEWEPIII) provides these scholarships for young, marginalized women and girls to empower them economically and socially. CARE has awarded 75 scholarships to women through this program since 2018.

Najiba shared, "I chose the field of midwifery because I could help save the lives of women and babies. So many are losing their lives due to lack of access to basic midwifery services, and it's very painful for me."  
Afghanistan has one of the highest maternal death rates in the Asia and the Pacific region, at 638 deaths per 100,000 live births, and the situation is expected to get worse without timely and appropriate interventions for maternal health.

The CARE GEWEPIII program focuses on economically empowering women and girls as well as encouraging male engagement through Male Supportive Groups (MSGs) and the capacity building of women-led civil society organizations. From 2020 to date, 5,126 women have benefited from savings and loans scheme through the establishment of 276 Village Saving Loan Associations (VSLA).