Community Hero

Zahra Mirzaei

(AFG) Afghanistan:  Midwife

Nominee Highlights:

Ms. Zahra Mirzaei is a midwife and educator, playing an important role in her community and province, and even on the national stage through advocacy and acceptance of community midwifery education (CME). 


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Ms. Zahra Mirzaei is an experienced midwife with over a decade of experience providing technical support and guidance in the development, management, and evaluation of midwifery education programs in Afghanistan. She supports efforts to strengthen midwifery nationally in collaboration with various stakeholders. For the past 13 years, Ms. Mirzaei has also served as the president of the Afghan Midwives Association (AMA), an organization committed to advancing the careers of midwives to improve maternal and newborn health in Afghanistan.

Ms. Mirzaei’s  has worked extensively with various organizations including the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA), Ibn Sina International, Afghan Midwives Association, Aga Khan Health Services (AKHS), and most recently with Jhpiego. Ms. Mirzaei began her career as a hospital midwife in Sar-e-pul Provincial Hospital in 2006 as a newly graduated midwife. As she progressed quickly into management, she was able to implement changes through the creation of committees within the hospital. Through her own experience, she realized that midwives needed additional support, particularly capacity building and continuing education. Her advocacy efforts led her to join the Afghan Midwives Association as a volunteer, helping to boost membership in the country. She became further involved as a teacher at the Community Midwifery Education (CME) school and after five years was promoted to the CME coordinator position.

In 2012, Ms. Mirzaei became the volunteer provincial director for the AMA, representing the organization by participating in health promotion programs. In 2018, she was elected as an executive board member and later as president of the AMA. This position has allowed her more opportunities to increase advocacy efforts for women’s rights within the fields of midwifery and nursing. Technical support has led to the establishment of the Afghanistan Nurse and Midwifery Council (ANMC) and expanded the membership of the AMA. 

Throughout her 13 years as a midwife, she has faced many challenges that have made her more resilient and better educator. Meeting families face-to-face to advocate for more women to join the  CME program as a student was among the most difficult. But this challenge has led to great success, and the program has educated far more midwives than she had imagined. Today, Ms. Mirzaei continues to fight for recognition for the CME midwives in hospitals as they are not registered in Afghanistan’s health system, despite the critical role they play in maternal health and primary care.