In every country, women make up half of society and play a significant role in the economy. Afghanistan is a country where the fires of war have affected all walks of life of its citizens, including the activities of women in the economic sphere. Women’s activities in the economic sphere have grown slowly, and bad traditions have also had a negative effect on these activities. But despite all the difficulties, Afghan women are struggling with the challenges that lie ahead. Afghan women in Afghanistan today are engaged in activities that in the past were done only by men and women did not have any activities in these sectors.
Sakineh (Metaphorical Name), who has 45 years Kabul-e-Bani-Hesar, Kabul, who is responsible for providing for the family with three daughters and three sons, sells masks on sidewalks in Kabul. “My husband was working in a factory and died a few months later when he cut off his car, and I had to sell bread to my six orphans,” she said. Sakina earns 150 to 200 Afghanis a day and has to keep her from men sharp eyes and keep her working.
However, institutions that work on women’s economic activities consider women’s activities in economic sectors to be important and vital. Manizha Wafiq, head of the Afghan Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industries, says there are currently more than 2,471 women in the formal business sector and more than 54,000 in the informal business sector. According to Wafiq, a survey of how businesswomen invest in Afghanistan shows that women have invested more than $ 90 million in various sectors. “Women have gone from being economic workers to economic activists, and now they have 800 million $in sales a year, and these economic activists have already created jobs for 130,000 women,” Wafiq said.
According to women rights activists, if more education is provided for women, they can have many activities in the economic field in society.
Homeira Ghaderi, a women’s rights activist, says that by providing education for women, they can enter the labor market more and participate in economic activities. If women are not educated, they will not achieve economic independence. “If women become more literate and women are educated, compulsory participation in economic activities will increase.”
A number of Afghan business and economic experts emphasize that women’s economic development helps reduce economic poverty and social violence.
“The growth of women’s trade helps reduce society’s economic poverty, increase national income and women’s economic independence, so that society can move towards self-sufficiency,” said Professor Massoud, an economic analyst. Women, who have made small and large investments despite the false traditions of society, are now satisfied with their work and have a good income.
Mina Rezaei, who started the Sample Cafe in Kabul about three and a half years ago, says she has long dreamed of starting her own business and creating jobs for other women. “Because our country is a traditional country, I want to prove to the world that women can also do business, and a negative view of women can not stop them from working,” Rezaei said. Rezaei added: “Not only the prevailing traditions in the society, but also the lack of government support in the field of lending, licensing and taxation are among the challenges facing business women in Afghanistan.”
According to her, by hiring people who are creative, we want to keep our business sustainable. Rezaei said that when women become economically self-reliant, their arms are not extended to their husbands and families, and domestic violence is reduced.
About three and a half years ago, Mina Rezaei established the Sample Cafe in Kabul. With her creativity and innovation, she proved that women in the traditional Afghan society can successfully establish and run restaurants. Photo by Maryam Alemi / FES
Fakhrieh Ebrahimi Mumtaz, the founder of yoga in Afghanistan and now teaches 30 Afghan girls and women in the yoga class, says: “I can serve women.” Now that women are expecting peace, Fakhrieh says she wants to send a message of peace to society through yoga.
“Women in this land have always appeared as a weak being and because of this, they have always faced many problems,” Mumtaz added. Because women are the main victims of war and they have suffered the most during the 40 years of war. “But now, despite concerns about the political situation and peace talks, the field of social and economic activities is favorable for women and they should seize this opportunity.”
By producing Afghan clothes, Afghan women have been able to introduce traditional clothes to the people not only inside the country but also outside Afghanistan.
“We started operating four years ago,” said Mohsena Saqib, owner of the clothing company (Jama Dizain), which is also a clothing designer. We had 6 employees and now we have 35 employees. “400 women work with the (Jama Dizain) factory and sew at home, 80 percent of whom are women.” “Despite insecurity, lack of raw materials, lack of electricity and lack of a bright future due to the lack of peace in Afghanistan, I, as a woman, do not want to lose my staff and they should not be laid off,” Saqib added. Although our sales have decreased with the outbreak of Corona, our production has not decreased and now we have customers not only inside the country but also outside Afghanistan.
However, a number of women in the provinces are engaged in planting and harvesting saffron. In this way, in addition to their economic growth, they have been able to provide employment opportunities for other women.
“By creating a union, I have created jobs for a thousand women,” said Shafiqa Ataie, a producer and head of a saffron company in Pashtun Zarghun, Herat province. “Saffron is one of Afghanistan’s most important exports.” But Ms. Ataie complains about the decrease in the price of saffron, the lack of machinery and the non-export of this precious commodity. He adds that women have not traded well in the saffron sector this year.
Although a number of women’s rights activists speak of women’s active participation in the economic sphere, the National Union of Employees says that, unfortunately, the special rights and privileges that should be provided to women during work are not respected by employers.
“Efforts should be made by the government to take measures and support measures for working women,” said Fakhria Habibi, deputy head of the Afghan Workers’ Union. Because women have special rights and privileges over men that are less respected by employers. For example, during pregnancy, women should have ease of work, because a woman cannot stand in the back of the car during pregnancy. “Women at work should be given time to breastfeed for half an hour, and these things are unfortunately less often done by employers.”
The Ministry of Economy values the role of women in economic development and achieving peace. “If there is peace in Afghanistan and marketing of women’s products, many women will be encouraged to do business and women will be able to work,” said Economy Minister Karima Hamed Faryabi.
“Women can play an active role in business,” he added. As Hazrat Bibi Khadija was a business woman in the beginning of Islam and was a role model for women in the spread and growth of trade. “Now Afghan women can contribute to economic activities if they are illiterate.” According to her, an illiterate woman in Faryab was able to teach mobile usage and create Facebook accounts by creating a training course for women.
However, small loans to women have seen the economic growth of a large number of families.
The Afghan Women’s Association, led by Fatana Gilani, is one of the organizations working in the field of small loans to women in Afghanistan. It has provided small loans to 22,000 families since 2002. The goal of this institution is to provide small loans to women in Afghanistan, self-sufficiency of women and economic growth of families.
Beliefs are that if women in society are supported by the government and their families, their interest in business will increase and more women will turn to economic activities
Reporter Meena Habib