Starting a career saving lives during childbirth


Rayhan Alem, a 22-year-old native of Badakhsan Province in Afghanistan’s far north-east, has wanted to be a midwife since she was a teenager. She graduated from the Midwifery Institute of Higher Education in Kabul in early 2015, but without any work experience, couldn’t find a job in any of Kabul’s maternity hospitals. Now, she is preparing for her career by doing an internship at Ali Seena Hospital in Kabul, with the support of UN Women.


The story of why I wanted to become a midwife started in my own village. When I was a high school student, I was walking back home from school one day and learned that my neighbour’s wife had died in childbirth. It really pained me and I thought if I became a midwife, I could help the women of my village to assist with safe deliveries.

Rayhan Alem.  Photo: UN Women/Hamayoon Sediqi
Rayhan Alem. Photo: UN Women/Hamayoon Sediqi

When I discussed this with my father and mother and other family members, they really appreciated my idea and assured me that they would always be on my side. This boosted my morale and made my decision to become a midwife stronger.

After I graduated from high school, I was admitted to the midwifery school and successfully completed a two-year programme. After graduation, I had to work in a hospital to practice my skills. Luckily, I also learned about UN Women’s internship programme. I successfully passed the entrance exam and attended two months of training where I learned things like listening skills, preparing a curriculum vitae, applying for jobs, and interview techniques and a lot of other things...”

Read the full story on our regional website for Asia and the Pacific.