Women's Rights

Helmand seamstress opens up workshop to employ 50 women

By Abdul Khaleq Hamim

Amid ongoing restrictions on women's work and education in Afghanistan, a number of women and schoolgirls have begun working at a tailor shop in Lashkargah, Helmand province. As many as 50 women and girls work in the shop. Most workers are high school students who have been prohibited from going to school. [Abdul Khaleq Hamim/Salaam Times]

HERAT -- Amid ongoing restrictions on women's work and education in Afghanistan, a number of women and schoolgirls have begun working at a tailor shop in Helmand's Lashkargah city.

As many as 50 women and girls work in the shop, mostly high school students who have been prohibited from going to school.

Mariam Mohammadi, 38, who manages the tailor shop, said she decided to open the shop after a long period of being confined at home.

"My three daughters are students. They have been at home ever since schools were closed," she said, adding that she decided to open the shop to save her daughters from the stress of being confined at home.

Women make dresses November 30 in Mariam Mohammadi's workshop in Lashkargah, Helmand province. [Abdul Khaleq Hamim/Salaam Times]

Women make dresses November 30 in Mariam Mohammadi's workshop in Lashkargah, Helmand province. [Abdul Khaleq Hamim/Salaam Times]

"After I opened the shop, many women and girls expressed their interest in joining, so I decided to expand it. Workers bring their own sewing machines, and we work together in the shop," she added.

The clothes made by the women and girls are now being sold in the market, earning them an income, Mohammadi said.

Hamida, 17, an 11th grader, works alongside her friends in the shop every day.

"It has been a year and a half since schools and courses were closed. I was confined at home during this time," she said.

Hamida said that her mental health and anxiety from being confined at home have improved since she started working at the shop two months ago.

She added that she is happy to go out and work despite current restrictions.

The right to work, study

Women and girls working in the tailor shop in Lashkargah city say women should have the same rights as men to work and study, and that their rights should not be violated.

Humaira Maiwand, 17, who was an 11th-grader at a high school in Lashkargah city and now works at the shop, said she took a class to learn tailoring instead of attending classes at school.

"It is better to work here in the shop than to stay at home. I want to learn tailoring skills so that I can become active in society and support my family," she said.

"Women should have the right to work. Men are not the only ones who have the right to work and play a role in society. Women should have the same rights," she added.

Allah Almighty has bestowed the right of education upon women, she said. "However, Afghan girls have been deprived of their human rights."

She said it is pointless to stay at home, and urged Afghan girls to come out and work in society.

Palwasha Noorzai, 16, a 10th-grader who is also employed in the tailor shop, said she plans to work outside her home and contribute to society so that women's voices do not remain silent.

"I had a better life when I was going to school. I was studying and feeling good about life. I wanted to continue my studies and make progress so that I could serve my country and family."

"However, I could not achieve my dreams because schools were closed," she added.

"I stayed home for a while and suffered from mental issues. But my mental situation has improved since I've started working in the shop. I can now learn sewing skills to support my family," she said.

Palwasha said with schools closed, staying at home causes psychological problems for girls and keeps them away from their dreams.

Silence must end

Women must resume work and social activities, say rights activists in Helmand.

Zulaikha Durani, a women's rights activist in Lashkargah, said society needs women, and without their contribution, it will go toward darkness.

"Educated and skilled women should not stay at home like prisoners. They must become engaged in all sectors so that society can make progress," she added.

"Silence against injustice makes women more vulnerable. They should not give up the fight to demand their rights and safeguard their achievements," she said.

Durani said women and girls are capable in various fields, and their talents and abilities should not be forgotten.

Spozhmai Zaland, 37, another women's rights activist in Lashkargah, also said women and girls should not remain silent against restrictions and exclusions.

Rights are not given but must be claimed, and Afghan women should join hands and demand their rights back, she said.

"Silence and marginalisation are not the solution, and they will keep women further away from society. Women must return to work and continue working in society."

"Despite gender restrictions, if women come out and return to work, no one will be able to underestimate their capabilities," she added.

"When Allah Almighty and Islam have given us the right to work and pursue education, why should we allow others to violate our legitimate rights? We must continue to fight and regain our lost rights," said Zaland.

Do you like this article?

4 Comment

Comment Policy * Denotes required field 1500 / 1500

In a place like Helmand, where such work is done, a man can become hopeful. Although this is a very trivial matter, the last 21 years were nothing but war, drug cultivation, and smuggling; now it is time to close the back to the work, whether it is men or women, but if it benefits the people, then let them begin. This woman who has started a job has not only made 50 women busy but has given hope to 50 families. God willing, I believe Maryam Mohammadi will reach a good result and provide enough to the other 50 women. Pashtun-inhabited areas have been deprived of many human rights for the past 21 years and are still deprived; it is hoped that the responsible authorities will pay attention to it.


I think this is the first report published by Salaam Times on the development of women in Pashtun-inhabited areas. During the past 21 years, on the one hand, the Taliban prevented the development of the Pashtun regions; on the other hand, the government did not pay attention to it because most of the government positions were in the hands of non-Pashtuns. Thirdly, the international organization did not pay any attention to the Pashtun populated areas. A survey was conducted in America last week. According to the survey, 53% of Hazaras love America, 19% of Tajiks love it, and 8 or 9% of Pashtuns love it. Sadly, there is such a big gap between Pashtuns and America. Pashtuns are not to blame at all. Pashtun-populated areas have been bombed during the past 21 years. I hope Salam Times will publish reports on civil society's activities, especially women's activities in Pashtun-populated areas besides Herat and Mazar, so it becomes a lesson for others. Respects


Other women should try to make good use of whatever they know. If 10 other women open sewing workshops the same as the lady who opened a sewing workshop in Helmand province and gave 50 students of class 12 job opportunities, they can provide similar opportunities for 500 girls who are currently deprived of education. Ladies and girls should understand one thing well, no one will find a job for you until you find a job for yourselves. Instead of sitting at home, if she would sell pens in the market, one day she will become a big businessman from selling the pens. I mean that nothing can be obtained from sitting at home. Try to offer to the market whatever you can.


The establishment of a tailoring workshop in Lashkargah by a woman is a very good work for Afghan women in the circumstances where restrictions have been imposed on them. Working in this workshop brings a lot of benefits including that, women can earn some money this way and be active in the society.