Empowering Afghan women to advocate and care for their own.


Program overview

The Clinical Female Family Planning/Reproductive Health Training Program sought to increase female Afghan doctors’ and midwives’ knowledge and clinical skills. Targeted areas of focus included infection prevention, correct use of medical instruments, family planning counseling strategies, family planning methods (including inserting and using birth control devices), detection and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, and prevention and education about HIV/AIDS.

Training sessions included both theoretical and clinical components, with an emphasis on clinical skills. Since 2005, Think Responsive has provided clinical training to midwives and doctors from 18 provinces.

Program goals

To reduce maternal mortality in Afghanistan by preventing unwanted pregnancies and promoting birth spacing through the expansion of family planning services.


Think Responsive’s female provider trainings introduced women to the concept of “agency,” equipping them with the skills and information they needed to make independent decisions and act on them. The program focused on helping them overcome cultural obstacles and encouraged and empowered them to make a direct impact on the lives of their patients and their patient’s families.

Program strategies included:

  1. Developing critical thinking skills by focusing on the status of Afghan women and comparing them with other women in the region.
  2. Fostering teamwork and personal responsibility by involving trainees in solving daily problems during the program.
  3. Role modeling by using other professional Muslim women trainers who have succeeded in similar situations.
  4. Encouraging individual consultations between trainers and trainees to identify and overcome hurdles in completing the program, such as obtaining their husbands’ permission.
  5. Overcoming fatalism by promoting women as agents of change and a culture of “it can be done.”

Evaluation and Results

Specific outcomes are outlined below.

Knowledge increases

The dramatic increase in trainees’ pre- and post-training scores (51% to 86%) indicated that our methods presented the material in an accessible, engaging way that had lasting impact.

Improved clinical skills

The clinical assessment evaluation has demonstrated a noticeable increase in the skills level of trainees in various reproductive procedures including infection prevention procedures, correct use of medical instruments, counseling strategies, IUD insertion and removal methods, and detection and treatment of sexually transmitted infections.

Enduring behavioral changes

To ensure that the trainees incorporated their new knowledge, they were observed during interactions with patients.Trainees have shown an increased understanding of the importance of utilizing women’s empowerment strategies when interacting with their family planning clients.