Looking at the shining faces of these young girls is moving like nothing I've ever experienced. Many of them wouldn't be alive at all if it weren't for some of the initiatives supported by Women Deliver
and the Safe Motherhood Initiative
over the years. Those that lived would have lost their mothers and been left to care of male relatives in this still very male-centered part of the world. Instead they have been raised by strong, loving mothers who, after their own brushes with near-death, threw themselves into learning about maternal health so that other women would not have to go through what they had. The mothers, sitting proudly on the other side of the make-shift stage, have all trained as health aids, midwives and maternal health educators. One even completed her medical degree at Kabul University. These women are part of the troupes of trained women who now ensure that even in the remotest part of Afghanistan no woman labors in agony for days without qualified help. They and women like them are the reason why Millennium Development Goal #5 — to reduce maternal mortality and
achieve universal access to reproductive health-- has been met, just 10 years after it was adopted.
Across from the proud mothers stand their daughters in their graduation robes, ready to receive their elementary school diplomas. Though they may not realize it, they are standing on more than just the stage. They are standing on their mothers' shoulders. And from there, nothing will be beyond their reach.