Motherhood is a defining feature of women's lives in contemporary Afghanistan. Yet mothers in that country face a situation that is quite unique. As a result of decades of war, religious fundamentalism, gender ideology, widespread poverty, and limited access to health care and education, motherhood continues to pose serious risks for Afghan women. Although recent efforts by national and international entities alike have attempted to improve the situation of Afghan mothers, significant challenges remain.

Women's lack of basic human rights in Afghanistan has a profound influence on their maternal experiences. Afghan women had gradually gained rights throughout the 20th century. However, conflicts of the late 20th century resulted in those rights being systematically stripped away. These conflicts included the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan from 1979–89, followed ...

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