Businesswoman creates carpet weaving training, jobs for fellow Mazar-e-Sharif women

By Muhammad Qasem

Afghan women weave a carpet March 2 in Mazar-e-Sharif, Balkh province. [Nasir Almas/Salaam Times]

Afghan women weave a carpet March 2 in Mazar-e-Sharif, Balkh province. [Nasir Almas/Salaam Times]

BALKH -- By establishing a carpet production company in Mazar-e-Sharif, Halima Sayedzada provides training and job opportunities to more than 100 women in the carpet weaving sector.

Sayedzada, 42, the owner and director of the Tashguzar carpet production company, said her company has employed dozens of women who could weave carpets but did not have the employment opportunity to do so.

"We want to support women and enhance their presence in society," she said.

Sayedzada said she established the workshop in January 2022 as a way to give female-headed households and girls from poor families an opportunity to learn carpet weaving and a way to support their families.

"I started weaving carpets with my mother when I was nine," she said. "Now, besides facilitating training for other women through this company, I provide them with work opportunities so they can meet their daily needs."

"More than 100 women work here with us, 30 of whom are learning how to weave carpets, while the rest weave carpets in the workshop and at home," she said.

"We buy raw materials for carpet weaving from Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan and provide them to female carpet weavers," she added.

"After distributing the raw materials to female carpet weavers, we also provide them with sketches and designs for the carpets."

Weavers are paid at the end of each month based on the number of square metres they have weaved, she said.

Sayedzada said she has agreements with large businesses to sell her company's products in domestic and international markets.

Helping sole breadwinners

Most of the women who weave carpets in Balkh are the sole breadwinners of their families and say they earn 4,000 to 10,000 AFN ($45–$114) each month, based on the amount of carpet they weave.

Ayesha, 42, has been working at Tashguzar for two months and now plays an important role in supporting her family.

She has four children and earns 4,000 to 6,000 AFN ($45–$65) a month from carpet weaving.

"My husband has a thrift store, but business is not good," she said. "Our economic problems have eased a little since I've started working."

"I work at the carpet weaving company from 8am to 4pm," she said. "I learned carpet weaving at my relatives' knee, and now I can weave any kind of carpet. I am very happy that I can support my husband and family."

Mah Gul, 35, a mother of three, covers her family's expenses with the 6,000 AFN ($65) that she earns monthly from carpet weaving.

"My husband migrated to Türkiye a year ago to find work, and I have to earn a living for my children," she said, adding that she has been weaving carpets at home for three months.

"I was unemployed and staying at home before this work started," she said. "I am happy now that I weave carpets and have an income."

"I manage to make ends meet to an extent with the salary I get," Mah Gul said. "I can buy books, notebooks and school uniforms for my children and address other needs in my daily life."

"It would have been very difficult if I did not have this work," she added.

Zakia, 50, a mother of six from Dawlatabad district of Balkh province, said she learned to weave carpets when she was seven and now weaves carpets at Tashguzar.

"My salary is 6,000 AFN ($65) per month, and I weave carpets from morning until evening at the carpet weaving company," she said, adding that she is the only breadwinner for her household.

"My husband was a security guard at one of the public agencies ... but he was let go and has been jobless for several months," she said.

Industry growth, issues with exports

The carpet weaving industry in northern Afghanistan had grown by 62% in previous years and traders had achieved some independence, but trade slowed when the flow of international aid stopped, according to Assadullah Assad, acting director of the Balkh Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Now, the industry is starting to pick up again.

"Production in different sectors, especially in the carpet sector, is regrowing in the north of the county," he said. "We are trying to support carpet weavers in marketing and helping them obtain raw materials so they can continue growing this industry without any challenges."

"We hope the international community continues its support of the private sector so that we can save the sector from bankruptcy and that traders, craftsmen and artisans can continue their activities like in the past," he said.

"The main challenges of the carpet industry in Afghanistan are the low rate of exports and the high cost of raw materials," he said, adding that exports are suspended because of the closure of air corridors and the decrease in the number of international flights (since August 2021).

Hamidullah Rohani, 40, a carpet seller in Mazar-e-Sharif, said some Afghan-made carpets are smuggled to Iran and Pakistan.

"Traditional carpets were exported by air in the past, but now because of issues in air travel, Afghan carpets are smuggled to the neighbouring countries and then exported from there to international markets under those countries' names," he said.

"Although Afghan carpets are of very high quality, because they're expensive, [Afghans] buy low-quality Iranian carpets, which do not last eve a few months," Rohani said.

He called on the authorities to stop the import of low-quality Iranian carpets and to support the Afghan carpet industry.

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Unfortunately, there was an explosion targeting journalists in Mazar-e-Sharif today; 14 journalists have been reported injured. Journalists are the eyes and ears of society; killing, torturing, and injuring them means removing the eyes and ears of society. Journalists do not have a problem with any group; instead, they work impartially and do not violate the media and all applicable laws at the country's level. Journalists are the voice of the people of the society whose problems cannot be reached, and they reflect on the solution to the issues that no one has cared about for years. War is a danger for all our compatriots and humanity; war destroys generations and creates problems and hatred. Hopefully, one day the war in Afghanistan will stop, and we will have news of peace, picnics, music, and prosperity.


Such small industries should be encouraged. The government and the international community can double the salaries for these working women for specific periods like three months, six months, and a year. If this company pays them AFN 5,000 a month, the government/international organizations can increase it by AFN 5,000 and bring it to AFN 10,000 monthly. Another thing is that exhibitions should be held in big cities to sell such goods. In addition, commercial organizations should establish relations with the neighbouring countries, organize collections in the neighbouring countries, and sell Afghan carpets there. Another thing that you have said about the imports of Iranian carpets, my opinion is that Afghans can also make and sell carpets like Iranian carpets. If AFN 5,000 goes to the pocket of an Iranian, why should it not remain in Afghanistan?