I am currently in Cairo, Egypt for my Applied Field Experience (AFE) which is a two-month research project, internship, or other professional activity which Rotary requires of the Peace Fellows to gain exposure into the field of conflict and peace.
For my AFE, I decided to do research for my dissertation because I have never done independent research before and wanted to gain exposure to the field of research in conflict and post-conflict settings. My dissertation is titled“Women’s Reproductive Health and Development in Post Conflict Societies: a Case Study of Egypt”. After the second semester of my courses, I realized that I am interested in post-conflict development especially in the field of health and that is why I chose a country who had just gone through a series of political turmoil and uprisings.
During my time in Egypt, I’m interested to research how women’s reproductive health has been impacted by the three years of conflict and unrest .
Interestingly, so far I have found out that the number of women dying during childbirth has increased during Egypt’s political conflict AND the fertility rate has increased while the prevalence of birth control has remained unchanged despite numerous family planning campaigns.
Undoubtedly, these findings are related to the conflict. However, there is currently NO research about WHY these stats have occurred and how conflict (no matter how small it may be) impacts women’s reproductive health. Through qualitative interviews I am finding out exact reasons for the degradation in women’s reproductive health in Egypt during a short period of conflict.
Why is this topic important? There are many reasons. Here are at least three:
-First of all, women’s reproductive health is related to peace. Peace cannot be achieved when millions of women are dying from childbirth, unsafe abortions and a lack of access to health.
-Women’s reproductive health relates to women’s equality and empowerment. How can we ensure women’s full participation and potential in a society when they are dying during childbirth?
-Access to family planning and reducing maternal deaths are an important strategy in reducing poverty especially in fragile states
By understanding how conflict impacts women’s reproductive health, it can be prioritized and given the attention it deserves especially in post-conflict settings. As a health care practitioner, I am interested in being involved in helping enhance health care in post-conflict societies especially women’s health and well being since they are most vulnerable during and after conflict. I am also enthusiastic to be working in a field that is parallel to one of Rotary International’s main projects which is: Saving Women and Children. At the moment Rotary is helping to bring health care to mothers and newborns in rural Haiti. This type of project really excites me and I would love to be able to contribute my health care background and my research in reproductive health to future Rotary projects.
Blog post by Sara Eftekhar, Rotary Peace Fellow
Original Post on her blog: http://mypeacefellowshipjourney.weebly.com/