Badakhshan women showcase handicrafts, artwork at exhibition

By Muhammad Qasem

Despite the restrictions on women's activities outside their homes in Afghanistan, some 150 women launched a handicraft exhibition on October 14 in Faizabad, the capital of Badakhshan province. [Courtesy of Manuchehr Abedi]

BADAKHSHAN -- Despite the restrictions on women's activities outside their homes, dozens of women recently launched a handicraft exhibition in Faizabad, the capital of Badakhshan province.

The women participating in the exhibition said they want to show the world they are still active and that Afghan women can work under any circumstances.

Some 150 women working in the handicraft sector showcased their products at the exhibition on October 14, said Wahida Wahaj, director of Kahkashan Vocational Organisation in Badakhshan and one of the organisers of the exhibition.

"The objective of this exhibition is to economically empower women and make them self-sufficient, expand woman-owned small and medium businesses, improve women's and girls' participation in social activities, and create employment opportunities for women who have lost their jobs," she said.

Women visit handicrafts at an exhibition in Faizabad, the capital of Badakhshan province, October 14. [Courtesy of Manuchehr Abedi]

Women visit handicrafts at an exhibition in Faizabad, the capital of Badakhshan province, October 14. [Courtesy of Manuchehr Abedi]

"We showcased various kinds of handicrafts including traditional clothes, hand embroidered waistcoats, pillow and mattress covers, various kinds of handkerchiefs, embroidered pieces, woven pashmina [cashmere], etc.," she said.

"In the past, our customers outside Badakhshan used to give us orders, but women have lost interest in the handicraft sector from a lack of market to sell and the decline of handicrafts," Wahaj said

She called on non-governmental organisations to support the women in marketing their handicrafts.

Women in the sector are concerned about the sale of their handicrafts because they do not have a suitable place to sell their products, she said.

Hope for the future

Faizabad residents who visited the exhibition said that holding such events is critical to raising public awareness about local handicrafts and encouraging the public to buy local products.

Say no to imported products and promote domestic industries, said Deda Bahar, one of the exhibition visitors.

"I call on all Afghans to buy domestic products, especially women's handicrafts, and promote them so that we can maintain our culture under any circumstances," she said.

"Holding such exhibitions raises public awarenesses and encourages consumers to buy Afghan products," she said. "I am confident that women's handicrafts will further expand if more support is provided."

Bahar encouraged women and girls prevented from going to school to remain strong and to join a vocational centre to learn a trade and to serve themselves and their country.

Sabera Subhani, a resident of Faizabad who brought her handmade dresses to sell at the exhibition, said that women face a lot of economic challenges due to the lack of work opportunities for them.

"I make various kinds of dresses, and I have come to sell them," she said. "I hope my business once again flourishes so that I can save my family from poverty."

"With the international community's support, Afghan women had nearly become self sufficient," she said. "I hope that those achievements will be maintained."

Afghan women made unprecedented achievements over two decades in various fields including employment creation, investment and handicrafts, said Muazuddin Ahmadi, spokesman for the Badakhshan provincial government.

"The women's bazaar in Ishkashim district, which was closed ... is reopened to support female entrepreneurs," he said. "They can sell their products in this bazaar now."

Ahmadi added that they are working to open soon another market that was built in Faizabad city to sell women's products to promote local businesses and facilitate women selling their products to other women.

The provincial government is working to open soon another market that was built in Faizabad city to sell women's products, promote local businesses and facilitate the sale of products by women to other women, said Ahmadi.

"Foreign tourists love local handicrafts made by women in Badakhshan," he said. "Supporting local products is the only way to help women's economic growth."

Women's economic growth

"We try to create job opportunities so that Afghans can make legitimate income," said Angiza Hejran, one of the handicraft vendors at the exhibition.

"We focus on rehabilitating jobs created by female entrepreneurs who were forced by economic challenges and lack of market to quit their jobs," she said.

"To achieve this objective, we need the support of relevant organisations and the international community," she said. "Therefore, we ask them to support women who create employment."

Hundreds of political, social, religious, economic, literary and cultural books, and more than 50 paintings and calligraphic artworks portraying women's messages and their cooking were showcased on the sides of the exhibition.

"The goal of launching this exhibition is to develop the young minds of Badakhshan, and we wanted to showcase the talent of Badakhshan's youth on the streets," said Paimana Payez, one of the organisers of the exhibition.

Almost 40 paintings and calligraphy works made by artists from Badakhshan and about 1,000 philosophy, history, literature, political, law, physics and sociology books were showcased, drawing hundreds of students and non-students alike, she added.

"I call on all girls not to give in to depression and economic problems and to work harder toward self-motivation and awareness of society," she said.

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The women of Badakhshan province have been very famous in hand sewing, embroidery and carpet weaving for the past years. Women of Badakhshan always face economic problems. Because most of the districts of Badakhshan Province have snow covered roads, these roads are always blocked most of the time. The women of this province can sell their handicrafts through an exhibition in Faizabad city of Badakhshan province and convey their message to those Afghans who live outside of Afghanistan to find customers for their handicrafts there. It is possible that the people of the world buy all their goods through the Internet. Everything is possible. Honesty is a condition of success. You women always stand by your brothers and husbands, and do not despair. Continue your activities. Try hard to bring your handicrafts to the markets of other provinces of Afghanistan and make your handicrafts famous, and this will make your future.


Handicrafts have a constructive role in the economy of a country. This work is not limited to women in the rest of the world, but men also play a role in making handicrafts. Here in Afghanistan, things are going on against the rest of the world. That is, women work in the field of handicrafts in Afghanistan. It is worth noting that some Afghan women take this business forward, to a large extent they do not consider the market, but this business is left to them as a legacy. In my opinion, Afghan women have not followed professional courses and lessons in this field. If institutions and the government train Afghan women in this field, and if this work is carried out on the basis of profession, the market is taken into consideration, I am sure that their income will increase many times compared to the present time. I see videos on social media from some countries, especially China, Japan and some other countries, where all family members are busy. Some make coats, some make socks... and this way, they present it to the market and meet all the needs of their life. So the thing is that Afghans should also be trained in this field in order that they can work and improve their lives.


God would make Afghans free from this situation, but it will not be forgotten. These women should luster to inspire others, stand on their own feet, and start working. Accomplishing your work is a thousand times better than begging. I appreciate them for not renouncing hope, even in this swarthy environment. Through the Salam Times website, I call on all organizations who support women and the human rights worldwide to pay attention not only to Iranian women but to Afghan women too, and to support them in pleading for their rights.


I say well done that they have not lost their hope even in this dark environment and are taking steps to fight. They give women and men the motivation and energy to work to save themselves from failure.


What made me delighted in this report was the sentence: "The women participating in this exhibition said they want to prove to the world that they are still active and that Afghan women can work under any circumstances." Afghan women really proved their bravery and sacrifices. Indeed, Afghan women do not receive as much attention as Iranian women do from foreign media; however, despite being beaten a hundred times harder than Iranian women and the Taliban strangling their throats and silencing their voices, Afghan women have not stopped struggling. They make progress day by day. They create new movements and show off their heroism. Through the Salaam Times website, I ask all the bodies that support women and human rights in the world not only to focus on Iranian women but also to pay attention to Afghan women and support them in getting their rights.


God will help Afghans to go through this situation, but it will not be forgotten. These women should shine so that others can learn from them, stand on their feet and start working. It is a thousand times better to do your work than to beg. I also know women who do hand embroidery but don't beg on the streets. Also, our tradition remains alive with these handmade things, which is also an important aspect.