Women's Rights

Herat women reopen Khadijah al-Kubra market

By Omar

Khadijah al-Kubra market, a women's market in Herat, Afghanistan, has fully reopened after a year for business with solid support from female artisans and customers. [Omar/Salaam Times]

HERAT -- A Herat city women's market has fully reopened for business, with solid support from female artisans and customers, a full year after its closure.

Business activities have resumed in Khadijah al-Kubra market, with all 34 shops situated in the market opening their doors once again, local merchants told Salaam Times.

The market, which is dedicated exclusively to woman artisans and customers, had previously provided employment for dozens of women in Herat province.

At its peak, 500 women and girls used to visit the market each day, and it became a retail hub for domestic handicrafts.

A female storeowner shows products to a customer August 16 in Khadijah al-Kubra market in Herat city. [Omar/Salaam Times]

A female storeowner shows products to a customer August 16 in Khadijah al-Kubra market in Herat city. [Omar/Salaam Times]

Hundreds of women and girls found a place to sell the various types of handicrafts they produced, such as clothes, bags, shoes and decorative items.

"The market was operating in full before the collapse of the former government," said Khadijah al-Kubra market chairwoman Siddiqa Tamskai.

But afterwards, she said, "woman entrepreneurs closed their businesses and confined themselves at home amid potential risks and fears".

Some of the market's shopkeepers left the country, she said, in some cases selling their possessions to finance their migration.

"But several new women and girls have now joined the market," she said.

Each shop has an affiliated handicraft and garment-producing workshop, Tamskai explained, with three to five women working in each one.

As women return to the market, they regain a means to generate income and address the economic problems their families face, she said.

Restoring income

According to Tamskai, most women who run a shop in the Khadijah al-Kubra market are the main breadwinners for their household.

Shopkeeper Freshta Ishaqzai, 32, said she has regained her income following the resumption of her work in the market.

Ishaqzai said she resumed her business after spending months in uncertainty and fear, and wants to develop it even further.

"I was suffering a lot because I was at home ... I used to work hard, with a lot of motivation and goals."

"Now that I have reopened my shop, I am very happy," she said.

"I want to support my family and develop my country's economy," Ishaqzai said, urging "all other women to come out of their homes and resume their businesses without fear".

She said educated and experienced women should not confine themselves at home but rather make use of their knowledge and play their part in society.

Khadijah al-Kubra shopkeeper Lal Bibi Hanifi, 42, said she has returned to work following the reopening of the market and is once again hopeful about her future.

"I restarted my work with great hope, and I am very happy about it," Hanifi said.

"Women's hard work is very much necessary to overcome challenges in this difficult situation," she added, referring to Afghanistan's unprecedented economic crisis.

"My husband has been jobless for the last several months, and I am the only breadwinner in the household," she said.

"I can now make enough from the shop to support my family," she added. "We would have faced huge economic challenges, had I not returned to work."

Hanifi said the market has seen relatively few customers, compared to the past, because of gender restrictions and the closure of schools.

But she said she was hopeful that women and girls would soon resume their place in society.

Creating a better future

Khadija Haidari, 31, a shopkeeper at the market, said woman entrepreneurs are seeking to create a better future for themselves.

"Women have made numerous achievements in different sectors, especially entrepreneurship, over the past two decades," she said. "We will not let obstacles jeopardise our activities."

"We want to move forward with an ambition to export our products around the globe," Haidari said.

"Only we [women] can build our future," she added. "If we stay home and do not fight the ongoing restrictions and pressures, we will face a dark future."

"We will not let anyone ruin and darken our future."

Women and girls have returned to businesses with stronger determination and renewed motivation to reach their goals with hard work, said Haidari.

Women's and girls' interest in economic activities has increased over the past few months, said Behnaz Saljuqi, deputy chairwoman of the Herat Women's Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

"More than 200 women are involved in various entrepreneurship activities in Herat province," she said. "Most of them have obtained their business licence in recent months."

"They work with great motivation and strive for a better and brighter future," she added.

As many as 1,500 women and girls have been involved in various business activities across Herat province's villages and districts, said Saljuqi.

"Women's businesses have recently returned to normal in Herat," she said.

"Following recent developments, many women were forced to stay home, and lost hope in their future. But things have now slightly improved, and women have been able to return to work."

Despite the difficult circumstances women face, "they can achieve their goals by fighting and overcoming the restrictions", Saljuqi said.

Do you like this article?

5 Comment

Comment Policy * Denotes required field 1500 / 1500

While all the social media and other press agencies are talking about Afghanistan's dire political and economic situation, Salaam Times broadcasts optimistic and promising news. Thanks to Salaam Times for posting such news. Indeed, the women's situation is not the same as it was during the era of republic. Women are facing many restrictions, especially in governmental institutions. Yet the brave Afghan women haven't admitted the defeat and are trying to oppose this situation by discovering different solutions. They are the complete character of sacrifice, passion, and courage who have stood against the Taliban and other extremist groups. Long live brave Afghan women.


Reading this news has excited me. Crowds will be noisy again. The sound of voices makes the area stunning. Progress follows. People benefit from it, whether directly or indirectly.


This is good progress and an excellent opportunity for the development of Afghan women so they can be self-sufficient and create work opportunities for other women. Although the Islamic Emirate has put many restrictions on Afghan women all over the country, these courageous women of Herat continue to live their everyday lives despite all these. I pray that the almighty God grant them more patience and ability. They are sufficiently the best examples for all Afghan women.


It makes one happy to hear such news, but on the other hand, many misfortunes are going on behind the scenes in this country. One gets sad about when these people (Afghans) will see happiness and when they will relax peacefully. When the Islamic Emirate came to power, we thought that we would get free from the wars. It became peaceful... but as time passed, we heard the news of disappointment again. The same Herat, from which you at least wrote this excellent news to your observers and made us happy, witnessed a substantial bloody explosion yesterday. Many innocent people were killed, including Maulvi Mujibur Rahman Ansari, a staunch supporter of the Taliban. Not all of those killed in the blast were guilty. Ansari may have been the only one who opposed his opponents or harmed them, but all the rest were very poor people. Anyone who did this is only an enemy of Afghans because they gave lifeless bodies to the homes of many innocent people and made people sad. Ansari was indeed a supporter of the Taliban, and it was also said that he had implemented a series of strict laws of the Taliban in Herat after the arrival of the Islamic Emirate. Still, these other people were innocent and had a hard time surviving. Their children were waiting to receive them in the evening. May God bring a day when we don't have any such news. And just like you wrote, "Herat women reopened the Khadija Al-Kabri market," we hear, read, and see many news/reports, and that's all.


An effort that would contribute even 1 afghani to the nation should be supported. I am relieved to read this news. People will be festive again, human voices will rise here, and the area will become beautiful. Progress comes with it. People benefit either directly or indirectly. Congratulations to the women of Herat. I hope those women who are now deprived of life's amenities will gain access to them.