Sexual and Reproductive Health for Afghans

two women in healthcare setting

Good reproductive health is not only vital for successful and healthy livelihood, it is also a human right. Poor reproductive health has been linked to other diseases and illnesses including mental health needs.

To maintain one’s sexual and reproductive health people need access to accurate information that empowers them to make informed decisions regarding their body and to protect themselves from any diseases or infections.

Ensuring cross-cultural understanding 

The purpose of this Sexual and Reproductive Health Glossary is to provide a standardized reference tool of SRH terms, translated from English into Dari and Pashto, that have been culturally validated and reviewed by a group of Afghan subject matter experts.

The glossary is intended for use by interpretation and translation companies, public health departments, and medical providers to help ensure consistent, cultural and linguistic appropriate translations of sexual and reproductive health terms. Our hope is that this glossary can help increase health equity in Afghan communities.


  • Words and definitions in English that serve as a reference to ensure cross-cultural understanding of the terminology
  • Rigorously translated and culturally validated terms in Dari and Pashto 
  • Colloquial expression reference to complement medical terminology, ensuring cultural and linguistic relevance
  • Easy-to-navigate overview page with the complete list of terms and links to find the correct page quickly
  • High-contrast design is easy to print in black and white or color

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Phase One: Terminology and Definitions

A comprehensive list of commonly used terms relevant to sexual and reproductive health were collected through consultation with a subject matter expert alongside an internet search of relevant lists and terms. Once the list of terms was reviewed and finalized, the medical definitions for each term were recorded. Afterwards, the medical definitions were simplified, where possible, to increase accessibility of definitions.

Phase Two: Review of Glossary

The English version of the glossary was sent to three cultural validators (CVs) for their review of the terms and definitions. The cultural validators were asked to assess whether any of the content was culturally inappropriate and if the definitions were understandable for a lay person to facilitate accurate translation and/or interpretation. As a result of this initial review, a “colloquial expression column” was added to the glossary, as the cultural validators expressed that often the colloquial expression of SRH terms differs from the medical terminology. Where possible, definitions and terms were updated on the CVs’ feedback.

Phase Three: Forward translation to Dari and Pashto

The glossary was sent to a translation company for translation into Dari and Pashto. The glossary included the CVs’ feedback and notes to serve as a reference for the translators as they completed the translations.

Phase Four: Translation review

The translated glossary was sent to two new CVs, both fluent in Dari and Pashto and both with medical backgrounds. The new CVs completed individual cultural validation of the glossary in both languages before meeting to review and discuss any differences in their evaluations. During the meeting, the two CVs went over the Dari and Pashto glossaries term by term, comparing their evaluations and discussing any discrepancies and/or concerns regarding the medical and colloquial terms. The CVs sought consensus on any differences they found. Where there were disagreements or discrepancies, they discussed the reasons for their individual evaluations and worked to reconcile them. The CVs collaborated to reach a mutual understanding of the translation, considering any differences in regional dialects or cultural nuances. Once the CVs completed the collaborative review of the content, the glossary was finalized.
diagram of translation process
Image of two speech bubbles with letters on them indicating a translated exchange of information

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