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New national data show significant improvements in health, education and wellbeing of women and children in Afghanistan, but challenges remain

2012-06-27

Kabul, 27 June 2012 - Some significant improvements have been made in the health, education and wellbeing of women and children in Afghanistan, according to the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) report to be released today by the Central Statistics Organization. Many Afghans have improved access to drinking water, school attendance is up for both boys and girls, and child mortality is down.

The Afghanistan MICS is a national survey undertaken by the Central Statistics Organization (CSO), with the support of UNICEF, providing data on a range of indicators to enable the assessment of the situation of women and children in the country, including child mortality, nutrition, child health, water and sanitation, reproductive health, child development, education, child protection, and HIV/AIDS. Data was collected from all 34 provinces of the country.

“The AMICS is part of our Government’s effort to monitor progress towards key goals and targets we’ve committed to, like the Millennium Development Goals,” said Mr. Abdul Rahman Ghafoori, CSO’s President General.

Yet, progress has come more slowly in many areas, such as in women’s literacy, vaccination coverage, early childbearing and gender parity in education. There are findings of concern in the area of child protection, such as in the prevalence of child labour in Afghanistan, low school attendance among orphans, and high rates of violence against children, including severe physical punishment used for discipline.

Across all sectors covered in the report, major disparities exist by the background characteristics of respondents. There are often dramatic differences found between urban and rural areas, by the socio-economic status of households, and by regions. Consistently, the education level of women emerges as a reliable predictor of almost all indicators for women and children. As women’s education levels rise, performance is higher on most indicators. For example, child mortality is much lower among women with education compared to women without education.

“The AMICS findings tell us that much more needs to be done to support the health and wellbeing of Afghan women and children if we are to meet Afghanistan’s MDGs on time,” said Peter Crowley, UNICEF Afghanistan Country Representative. “Paying careful attention to these data can support better planning and more targeted interventions in development and humanitarian assistance to help alleviate some of the most acute disparities.”

See the Executive Summary of the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey report.

 

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For further information:

Stefanie Carmichael, Communications Specialist, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8866; Cell: (647) 500-4230, scarmichael@unicef.ca.
Tiffany Baggetta, Director, Communications and Brand, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8892; Cell: (647) 308-4806, tbaggetta@unicef.ca.