The Afghanistan Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (AMICS) is a nationally representative sample survey that presents data on the social, health, and educational status of women and children in Afghanistan. It was conducted in 2010-2011 by the Central Statistics Organisation (CSO) of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, with the technical and financial support of UNICEF. The survey is based on the need to monitor progress towards goals and targets emanating from recent international agreements such as the Millennium Declaration and the Plan of Action of A World Fit For Children. It further helps track progress towards the Afghan Government’s policy commitments to reduce poverty and support the wellbeing of women and children, such as the commitments made through the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS).
The findings of the AMICS reveal the story of a country in transition, where many significant improvements have occurred in the last decade, as Afghanistan emerged from decades of war, poor governance, and widespread human rights abuses. Many Afghans have improved access to drinking water, school attendance is up for both boys and girls, and child mortality is relatively down, if still unacceptably high when compared with global estimates. Yet, progress has come more slowly in many areas, such as women’s literacy, and Afghanistan faces new threats on the horizon, such as HIV/AIDS. Across all sectors covered in AMICS, major disparities exist by the background characteristics of respondents. There are often dramatic differences in indicators between urban and rural areas, by household socio-economic status, and by region. Consistently, the education level of women emerges as a reliable predictor of almost all indicators for women and children. This finding is compelling evidence that investments in the status and wellbeing of women are investments in children, and in communities at large.