KABUL -- Dozens of women widowed by the Afghan war have been making a living by stitching uniforms for servicemen and prisoners at a factory in Kabul.
The Defence Ministry employs about 120 women at the factory. Many are widows, but all are related to someone who was serving in the military and either died or was invalided out.
The move has been a lifeline for many families, which usually rely on men for financial support.
Separately, the Afghan government has been pushing a new initiative to provide additional support to the families of Afghan security personnel killed in combat or in terrorist attacks, and to streamline the benefit process.
The initiative allocates an additional 100,000 AFN ($1,290) to the families of martyrs, in addition to the benefits they have obtained thus far.
Factory worker Roya Naimati, a 31-year-old with four children, received a job and an apartment in the capital when her husband drowned in a river during a military operation.
"Initially I lost hope and was wondering how to feed and bring up my little children," she said. "I'm thankful to the Defence Ministry for this job."
With her 5-year-old daughter next to her at the sewing machine, Naimati is now the breadwinner of her family, earning 12,000 AFN ($155) a month.
Afghanistan has fought a two-decade insurgency by the Taliban. Despite peace talks between the warring sides, violence has surged across the country with thousands of soldiers and civilians killed.
The exact number of Afghan security personnel killed in the war is unknown, but in 2019, President Ashraf Ghani said more than 45,000 had "paid the ultimate sacrifice" since his election five years earlier.
"I feel sad when I'm sewing because this was the uniform my son was killed in," said Mahbooba Sadid Parwani, 37. "Though my son died, I am happy that other young people are fighting against the traitor Taliban."
Samira, who goes by one name, shares the same conflicting emotions provoked by the work that has allowed her to support her family.
"The Taliban might wear this prisoner uniform that I'm sewing... I do not want to even touch it, but am helpless -- I have three children," she said.