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Monday, 14 November 2011 09:38

The Christmas Bowl shines a light on suffering women in Pakistan

Act for Peace, the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia, supports partners in the mountainous Kohistan area. The rugged terrain and deep conservatism mean that few health workers will venture here. Finding female doctors is especially difficult.
A local health worker, Fehmida, is one of the few female health workers in the region. She works for one of several rural health centres Act for Peace supports.
“The people are so poor they can barely afford to feed themselves,” she said. “It is traditional that men eat first, next boys, then wives and finally, the female children eat last. If there isn’t enough food to go around, the wives and girls go hungry. The larger the family, the greater the risk of malnutrition.
“Women as a whole in this area suffer the most. They have no education and are not even allowed to socialise with other women. Their husbands do not allow them to have any rights, and most women who come to me are anaemic.”
Women in Kohistan have 10 to 12 children on average, and almost always give birth at home, with no trained birth attendant present.
Fehmida says, “The rural health centres are gradually making a difference in the lives of women and their families.  We are seeing more women coming into the clinic for pre- and post-natal care. When they do come to the clinic, I try to educate them about women’s health issues, nutrition and hygiene.”
Funds raised through the Christmas Bowl will help Act for Peace partners in Pakistan and many other conflict-affected regions of the world, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, South Sudan, Zimbabwe and Burma. A gift of $45 can provide a baby kit to help keep a newborn baby safe and warm, and $460 can support a female health worker for a month.
To give to the Christmas Bowl, please free call 1800 025 101, visit www.actforpeace.org.au or use the Christmas Bowl envelopes at your church.
Christmas Bowl resources for congregations, including videos, worship resources, activities and PowerPoint presentations, can also be downloaded from the Act for Peace website.
Media enquiries: please contact Emma Halgren, Media & Online Coordinator on 0458 303 515 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. To download high resolution images that align with this media release, please visit http://www.actforpeace.org.au/Ways_To_Give/The_Christmas_Bowl/Resources_Events/Christmas_Bowl_Media.aspx#Pakistan.

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