Being born in Afghanistan and witnessing domestic violence in the lives of many Afghan women, graduate student Sahra Ibrahimi has always been passionate about women's rights and improving public health.
By Choya Randolph, MFA ’18
Being born in Afghanistan and witnessing domestic violence in the lives of many Afghan women, graduate student Sahra Ibrahimi has always been passionate about women’s rights and improving public health. She left Afghanistan at the age of 14 to pursue her education, leaving behind her family and friends to study on a full scholarship at The Ethel Walker School, a boarding school in Simsbury, Connecticut.
“I was a child during the Taliban regime,” Ibrahimi said. “The Taliban regime had banned education for women in Afghanistan…women were not even permitted to leave the house without being accompanied by a male relative. The Taliban extremists’ regime and the ongoing war has really impacted and shaped the patriarchal culture that many Afghan women are enduring to this day.”
Once she began her master’s at Adelphi, she knew she wanted to do research that would contribute to public health.
In her research, titled “Association Between Domestic Violence During Pregnancy and Pregnancy Outcomes in Afghanistan,” she learned that 53 percent of Afghan women ages 15–49 who had ever been married have experienced physical violence. She found that 92 percent of women who experienced physical violence during pregnancy have no education. Her main findings showed that women who experienced physical violence were more likely to miscarry, and if they gave birth, their babies were more likely to be stillborn or die as newborns.
At Adelphi’s 16th annual Research Conference in April 2019, Ibrahimi was the recipient of the Outstanding Graduate Student Award. In June 2019, her research was selected among thousands of studies to be presented by the American Public Health Association’s (APHA) Annual Meeting and Expo this fall in Philadelphia. With nearly 13,000 attendees, this conference is the largest and most influential annual gathering of public health professionals.
“I’ve been to conferences before, but this is the first time I’m presenting my research in a national conference,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity to present but also to network.”
Before embarking on her study, Ibrahimi sought advice from her adviser, Maria-Pilar Martin, MD, assistant professor and director of public health programs, who introduced her to Korede Yusuf, PhD, assistant professor in the College of Nursing and Public Health. Dr. Yusuf guided Ibrahimi, reviewed her findings and provided feedback. Amirhossein Alamdar Yazdi, PhD, assistant professor of decision sciences and marketing, helped Ibrahimi understand the complex data analysis required for her research.
“All of my professors have been so supportive of my ideas,” Ibrahimi said. “I really appreciate them for their support and belief in me.”
After graduating, Ibrahimi plans to pursue a doctoral degree. Currently she is in the process of submitting her work to research publications. She is also working on other papers related to maternal and child health in the United States that are being submitted for publication as well.
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