KUNDUZ -- Authorities in the Faryab Department of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (DAIL) say they have created jobs for more than 2,000 women in Faryab province in the past 10 months.
These jobs have been created through the establishment of home gardens to grow different varieties of fruits and vegetables, said Noor Ahmad Noor, agricultural director of Faryab DAIL.
"Beside establishing greenhouses and home gardens for these women, we have also distributed 16 varieties of vegetable seeds," he said.
"Women are divided into groups of 10-30 members, working in different areas under the supervision of a team leader and using tools provided by Faryab DAIL," he added.
DAIL has purchased and distributed tools worth up to 25,000 AFN ($323) to the groups so they can improve their harvest methods, he said.
"Farmers in the province have suffered as a result of recent conflicts, but women have now become a supporting hand for their families," Noor said.
The National Horticulture and Livestock Project has been establishing home gardens and orchards since 2014, and so far, more than 6,000 women across Faryab province have benefited from the programme.
Faryab DAIL intends to train women in growing mushrooms and saffron the next solar year and to establish dairy plants, said Noor.
More capable than before
The number of working women in the province has grown by 30% from previous years, a major achievement, said Maria Noori, director of the Faryab Women's Affairs Department.
Although Faryab has fewer aid agencies than do other provinces, women in Faryab became active members of society and contributed to its advancement, Noori added.
"There are many women who are more capable than men, and we cannot claim creating job opportunities for 2,000 women is enough," she said, stressing that more needs to be done.
More than 1,000 jobs for women are expected to result from the establishment of a "Women's Bazaar", the first of its kind in Faryab, she said. The bazaar will be open for business in the upcoming solar year (starting March 21).
"Women will work in the areas of shopkeeping, tailoring, hairdressing and embroidery at the bazaar and will earn a good income," she said.
The Faryab Women's Affairs Department, in co-operation with the Faryab Department of Traffic, has provided driving lessons to 30 women who received their driver license last September after passing the test, Noori noted.
They were the first women in their province to gain the right to drive.
Optimism for self-sufficiency
Hangama Kohi, 36, of Kohi Khana village in Qaisar district said that she has been busy in her greenhouse for over six months.
"I am a housewife and mother of four," she said. "My husband is a farmer; we now leave home together in the morning and work in our farm."
"I grow cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplants and other seasonal vegetables in my greenhouse, and thanks to God, I have a good life," Kohi, who has a 150-square-metre greenhouse, said.
Kohi's daily income ranges between 200 and 400 AFN ($2.50 to $5), which she spends on basic needs. It helps her make ends meet, she said.
"I had been a housewife since I got married four years ago. By establishing a greenhouse and home garden, I now have a job and I am also busy helping other women grow their own home gardens," said Samea Rahimi, one of the team leaders in Deh Saidan village of Maimana, the provincial capital of Faryab.
"We grow tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and other vegetables in these home gardens and get good yields from our crops," Rahimi said.
Every month, group members keep a portion of the harvest for personal use and sell the rest at the market for a monthly return of 10,000 to 20,000 AFN ($130 to $260), she said.
"Many families in Faryab are unable to make ends meet," she added. "This [project] has helped many women get work and support their families."
"We are happy for the opportunity provided to us. Through this, we can help ourselves as well as our families," said Khadija Rahimi, 34, of Pashtun Kot district.
The majority of domestic violence cases stem from joblessness, Rahimi said, referring to the family tensions that additional income can ease.
"If peace is achieved [in Afghanistan] and Faryab is safe, more women will become employed," she said.
"I want peace so that more such opportunities are provided to us," she added.