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#ByHerSide Care and Kits - Life Saving Access to Reproductive Health Services for Women and Girls in Afghanistan

#ByHerSide is an emergency education and funding program to reduce the # of Afghan girls and women who die from reproductive health issues.

Photo of Kim Otis

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What specific problem(s) are you trying to address?

Afghanistan is one of the worst places on earth to be female, due to an epidemic of gender-based violence. According to research by Global Rights, nearly 90% of Afghan women experience gender-based violence, majority of which is perpetrated by family members. Additionally, in Afghanistan, health services are primitive: hygiene amongst medical professionals is poor; resources are scarce, including basic medicine (such as pain relievers); malnutrition is commonplace, an especially dangerous reality for women who are pregnant or nursing; and Afghanistan’s maternal mortality rate is the highest in the region. According to a UN report, women in the country have a 1 in 50 chance of dying from pregnancy-related causes.

What are some of your unanswered questions about the problem(s) you are working to address?

This idea provides emergency services, resources, and funding to ensure women/girls receive the services they need to survive issues related to gender-based violence or reproductive health. However, we believe this idea can be better executed if more funding is secured to add a mobile clinic to the program scope (WAW run, that travels between refugee camps, Protection Centers, and IDP villages) and trust is built within the women we serve to talk about and provide contraception.

Explain Your Idea

#ByHerSide would enable WAW to provide 500+ women and children with critical emergency services and/or resources to provide: • Treatment for survivors of rape or incest; • Obstetrics and gynecological services; and/or • Birth/after-birth services in a high-quality medical facility. The #ByHerSide Care and Kits Program will include: • Intensive emergency and safety counseling, • Funds to pay for medical services and procedures, • Resource distribution to combat malnutrition and other ailments, • Transportation arrangement and appointment accompaniment, • Local advocacy and public education, • Providing safe shelter and housing, and • Successful (safe) reintegration of women and children into the community. It will also include #ByHerSide Health Kits. We envision an opportunity for the OpenIDEO forum to help develop these kits. The kits can provide general and maternal health, resources geared toward survivors, and best practices/products for medical providers. We would like engage profit/nonprofit partnerships heavily for this —getting the majority of materials, resources, and giveaways donated in-kind (feminine pads, diapers, pain relievers, Band-Aids, baby products, sanitizers, nutritional supplements). Kits would be uniquely developed for women, girls, and health care providers. With more funding, we would expand #ByHerSide to offer a mobile clinic, trainings for providers and families, and education on family planning and contraception products.

Name the three most important ways that your idea will address your identified problem(s).

1. #ByHerSide provides intensive support, funding, and resources that will save lives and/or improve the health of 500+ women and girls in Afghanistan who often have little support or access to medical services and resources due to poverty, shame, and stigma. 2. #ByHerSide reaches some of Afghanistan’s most vulnerable populations, including female survivors of violence, refugees, and IDPs, as well as the medical professionals who serve them, with relevant health kits that increase awareness and understanding of women/girl health issues and provide resources and helpful products. 3. #ByYourSide has the potential to be a far-reaching and engaging campaign inclusive of highly impactful for-profit and non-profit collaboration.

How is your idea unique?

Very few organizations in Afghanistan provide the kinds of emergency services for addressing gender-based violence and reproductive health. Also, WAW has the capacity to deliver an engaging #ByHerSide campaign, with its collaborative partners on this project, to garner additional support. #ByHerSide has great potential. We want the campaign to capture the interest and imagination of our supporters and to engage global communities in the health and welfare of Afghanistan women and girls. In addition, the health kits WAW will offer can be creative, unique, and exciting. This is also where the OpenIDEO community can be very helpful! As the largest women’s organization in Afghanistan, WAW has been providing emergency protection and life-saving reproductive medical services on an ad hoc basis for 10 years now. This new initiative, #ByHerSide Care and Kits, would provide structure to WAW's efforts, and a more holistic response inclusive of preventative education and resources.

What are some outstanding concerns or questions that you have regarding your idea?

The challenge is developing #ByYourSide Kits that are: - culturally sensitive, as providing services related to sex is taboo - kits may, at first, need to focus on gender violence awareness, menstruation, nutrition, hygiene. As trust builds, we can build in contraception conversation/products; - illustrated, as literacy rates are low and we want all women/girls to benefit from them; and - produced through partnerships with NGOs/companies that can contribute valuable health info/products.

Who are your end users?

WAW’s #ByHerSide Emergency Fund Program would be accessible to: • Women and girls (ages 3-60) in all 12 of WAW’s Protection Centers (approximately 4,500 women and girls) which are located in the provinces of Badakhshan, Faryab, Jawzjan, Kabul, Kapisa, Kunduz, Nangarhar, Samangan, Sari Pul, and Takhar; • Refugee camps (consisting of Afghans returning to the country after fleeing during war) and makeshift villages for IDPs (people forced to leave their homes because of war but who remain in the country) in which WAW has a presence (reaching 40,000+ women and girls) in the provinces of Baghlan, Balkh, Faryab, Jawzjan, Samangan, Sari Pul, and Takhar.

Where will your idea be implemented?

  • Afghanistan

What is the primary type of emergency setting where your innovation would operate?

  • Armed conflict
  • Prolonged displacement

Tell us more about the emergency setting that you intend to implement in

WAW runs Women's Protection Centers in Afghanistan, which are staffed with locals who have close relationships with the communities we serve. WAW also already has a presence within the refugee camps and IDP villages. We have permission for the government to provide our services as well. The cases we see of GBV are often extreme and require high-level safety planning. We will also provide access to prenatal and post natal services, as medical services within these spaces are extremely scarce.

What is your organization's name?

Women for Afghan Women (WAW)

Tell us more about you.

WAW is the largest women’s organization in Afghanistan, with 750+ local staff in 14 provinces and operating 32 facilities. WAW is rooted in its grassroots approach, which includes hiring locally in order to best respect and understand local traditions, customs, and challenges. In 2016, WAW served 4,470 new individual clients with often life-saving protection services in Afghanistan. In addition, we trained 45,500 men and women on women’s rights, the elimination of violence against women, and awareness of services for women and children. Since its founding, WAW has provided protection, safety, and loving care to over 25,000 Afghan women and children, 126,000 family members, and educated over 305,000 individuals on women’s and human rights.

Organizational Characteristics

  • Women-led organization
  • Locally/community-led organization
  • International/global organization

What is the current scale of your proposed innovation?

  • Community - 1+ communities within 1 country

Experience in Implementation Country(ies)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

Expertise in Sector

  • Yes, for more than a year.

Organization Location

We are based in NYC (we have a New York Community Center to meet the needs of immigrant Afghan women and families in New York) and have 32 facilities in Afghanistan in the North/Northeast region.

What is your organizational status?

  • Registered non-profit, charity, NGO, or community-based organization.

What is the maturity of your innovation?

  • Existing Prototype or Pilot: Tested a part of my solution with users and am iterating.

Website

http://www.womenforafghanwomen.org/

How has your idea changed based on feedback?

WAW shared the idea with program leadership, its Board, and Junior Board (consisting of young/ambitious professionals committed to advancing WAW’s mission and visibility). The feedback was positive and constructive. Our Afghanistan-based staff spent significant time identifying priority health needs of the women and children it encounters daily. The #ByHerSide idea reflects that feedback, as well as the long-term vision we have for the program, which includes: a) a mobile clinic, b) far-reaching reproductive health training (with kits) for men and women in local communities/refugee camps/IDP villages; and c) contraception education and products (as trust is built). WAW staff is excited by the potential of #ByHerSide. Visioning is already occurring on how to promote it and engage supporters, new audiences, and partners. As the #ByHerSide campaign is reflective of the WAW commitment to the safety and well-being of the women/girls it serves, it is inspiring to the entire team.

Who will implement this idea?

WAW's Protection Center Supervisors in Badakhshan, Baghlan, Balkh, Faryab, Herat, Jawzjan, Kabul, Kapisa, Kunar, Kunduz, Nangarhar, Samangan, Sari Pul, and Takhar will oversee the project under the leadership of the Executive Director and Country Director and direct supervision of the Head of Programs and Province Managers. WAW’s Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist will regularly monitor and evaluate the project to ensure its successful execution, in partnership with WAW's Province Manager and the Protection Center Supervisors. All staff involved in the project are full-time members. WAW staff will ensure active partnerships are strengthened with local government agencies and officials, local hospitals, community leaders, religious leaders, and other stakeholders.

Using a human-centered design approach, you may uncover insights that lead to small or foundational changes to your organization’s existing strategy or processes in order to unlock the potential of your idea. How would your organization go about making such changes?

WAW believes in a collaborative, team-oriented approach to executing programs. We recruit talented team members, and want their ingenuity and creativity behind our work. As such, we meet regularly (weekly) to brainstorm around programming, challenges, and ideas. This kind of team spirit enables us to be responsive and flexible in our programming. When something does not work, our openness and regular team engagement enables the problem to be identified quickly and addressed with thoughtfulness. The same philosophy applies to volunteer leadership. Our board and junior board are deeply involved in campaigns, collaborations and partnerships, and programming strategies. They will respond swiftly to challenges regarding #ByHerSide sustainability, visibility, and partnership development.

What challenges do your end-users face? (1) What is the biggest challenge that your end-users face on a day-to-day, individual level? (2) What is the biggest systems-level challenge that affects your end-users?

The biggest challenge for our clients on an individual basis is financial. Medical services are hard to come and they cost money to access – #ByHerSide would handle these expenses. Here are some examples: 1. A client was shot 5 times and needed operation in a private clinic in Kabul. Total expense for the medical care was around $1,000. 2. A 3-year old client was raped and she needed an operation to address the injuries. The cost of her operation was $2,000. 3. One client needed emergency care that was not successful in Afghanistan. She had to be flown to Turkey for another procedure. Systemically, there is a dearth of quality health providers. More training is needed for existing providers and more providers are needed. #ByHerSide includes training elements and increased access.

Tell us about your vision for this project: (1) share one sentence about the impact you would like to see from this project in five years and (2) what is the biggest question you need to answer to get there?

IMPACT: By 2022, we aim to bring #ByHerSide to scale, reaching annually: 20,000+ men and women with reproductive health education and kits; 500+ women and girls with emergency support services and care (through access to local medical providers or WAW's mobile clinic) and kits; and 50+ medical providers with hygiene health trainings and kits. QUESTION: What are best practices in building trust to address the highly sensitive and taboo subject of sexual health and contraception?

What is it that most attracted you to Amplify instead of a more traditional funding model?

We truly appreciate 3 specific elements to the Amplify process: 1. The challenge to present our idea concisely, creatively, and visually, which resulted in the WAW team thinking deeper about our idea, and in a more complete way. 2. We valued being able to read through the other ideas within the Amplify/OpenIDEO community. It is inspiring to see the tremendous work being conducted around the globe. 3. Our idea benefitted significantly from the team approach (20 minds can be better than 1!)

Do you intend to implement your Amplify idea in refugee camps / temporary settlements?

  • We aim to implement our Amplify idea in a refugee camp / temporary settlement.

How long have you and your colleagues been working on this idea together?

  • Less than 6 months

How many of your organizations’s paid, full-time staff are currently based in the location where the beneficiaries of your proposed idea live?

  • Over 50 paid, full-time staff

Is your organization registered in the country you intend to implement your idea in?

  • We are registered in all countries where we plan to implement.

My organization's operational budget for 2016 was:

  • Above $1,000,000 USD

What do you need the most support with for your innovation?

  • Product Design

17 comments

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Photo of NAC Norwegian Afghanistan Committee
Team

Hi Kim,
Your idea has been inspiring for us in the development in our idea. It would be really useful if we could meet up and discuss your ongoing projects and plans as you have very relevant learning and useful approaches that also should inform our proposed intervention. Additionally we work with Midwives and Midwife education and it would be interesting to explore how our projects could have further synergies with your projects!

Photo of Kim Otis
Team

Thank you for writing! Your work is inspirational and exciting as well - and we'd very much like to collaborate/partner in whatever ways make sense. Please feel free to reach out to me directly to further explore our mutual programs and opportunities for sharing/collaboration: Kimberly Otis <kim@womenforafghanwomen.org>

Photo of NAC Norwegian Afghanistan Committee
Team

Excellent, will send you an email!

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