KABUL -- A woman in Kabul has established a tailoring workshop for girls and women looking to expand their opportunities after many lost their jobs or were forced to stop their education.
Husna Raoufi, 23, was a senior journalism student at Kabul University until about a year ago.
"With the recent changes, the right to education was unfortunately taken from me and other women," she said. "A month and a half ago, I started a tailoring vocational workshop called Rah-e-Danish to create jobs for myself and other women as well as to offer training opportunities for female students."
A total of five teachers are training 10 students in tailoring, embroidery and weaving, she said.
So far, production and sales have been good and she hopes to expand the project, she added.
"On the one hand, we are trying to expand our business to create more vocational tailoring and work opportunities for more women, and on the other hand to inspire women who are staying at home to return to society," Raoufi said.
"Right now in the tailoring workshop, female students, poor women and those who have no male breadwinners are busy learning and working," she said. "The doors are open to all women who want to learn tailoring."
Improving household economies
The women training and working at Rah-e-Danish have welcomed its establishment.
"I was a junior student of sharia jurisprudence at Kabul University when I was deprived of education ... and like girls from two decades ago, I was isolated from society and confined to my house," said Toba Qodusi, 21.
"But I came to this workshop a month ago and trained in tailoring. I am supposed to start my new profession as a tailor in a month," she said on January 23.
"By starting my new profession, I will be able to support my family and contribute to the improvement of my economic situation as well as that of society," Qodusi said.
"Women make up half of society. If half of society is removed, society will be destroyed," said Mariam Arvin, a women's rights activist.
"Many women in our country are the breadwinners of their families. Their children will die from hunger and cold if the right to work is taken from them forever."
"Establishment of such workshops is a good opportunity for girls and poor households," she said. "By learning tailoring or any other profession, they will not only financially support their families but also remain active in society and improve the economy."
Worries for the future
Confronted by a ban on education for girls above grade six and a suspension on higher education for women, female students have turned to various vocations to support their families.
Tamana Osman, 27, has a law degree and used to work for one of the Afghan ministries. She lost her job after August 2021.
"I have been training in tailoring for a month [at Rah-e-Danish] so that I will be able to earn a living through this for my family in the future," she said.
"As an educated Afghan girl, I call [on authorities] ... to withdraw the restrictions on Afghan girls and women," Osman said.
"I am worried about my future," said Mursal Yousufi, 16, a 10th grader from Kabul and another trainee at Rah-e-Danish.
"If I am not given permission to continue my education and ... realise my dream of becoming a doctor ... I want to learn a vocation," she said. "Therefore, I have been training to learn tailoring and embroidery so that at least I can start a small business of producing Afghan dresses in the future."
She also urged authorities "to please open the doors of schools and universities to Afghan girls and women and give them permission to study and work".