Women's Rights

US-based organisation gives hope to Kandahar girls with tailoring programme

By Rahimullah Khpelwak

Empowering Afghan girls through education and skill-building, Shared Humanity USA, an American non-profit organisation, has launched a tailoring training centre in Kandahar city, providing dozens of girls who have been deprived of formal education with the opportunity to learn and develop new skills. [Rahimullah Khpelwak/Salaam Times]

KANDAHAR -- Shared Humanity USA, an American non-profit organisation, has launched a vocational training centre in Kandahar for dozens of girls deprived of the chance to attend schools and universities.

Girls receive free English language and tailoring lessons at the tailoring centre, which was established two months ago.

Shared Humanity USA works in Kandahar to provide girls with vocational training and to provide potable water and food to poor families. The NGO was founded by Kandahar native Latifa Woodhouse, who now lives in New York state.

Seema Amiri, who manages the tailoring centre in Kandahar city, said 60 girls learn tailoring and English at the centre daily.

A woman displays a dress she created during her training session on April 8 in Kandahar city. [Rahimullah Khpelwak/Salaam Times]

A woman displays a dress she created during her training session on April 8 in Kandahar city. [Rahimullah Khpelwak/Salaam Times]

"We have two types of tailoring training programmes: a six-month programme, delivered to those who have no knowledge of tailoring; and a three-month programme, delivered to girls who have some prior experience of tailoring," she said.

"These girls have learned tailoring to an extent in the two months that they have joined the training," she said. "All of these girls make some income in return for their work and training to support their families economically."

The organisation provides all facilities such as sewing machines, dresses and other accessories to the girls for free, Amiri said.

Finding hope amid despair

For the participating girls, the training programme is a welcome reprieve after months of staying at home, being unable to go to school, and enduring suffering and mental pressure as a result.

Samia Ishaqzai, 16, an 11th grader in Kandahar city, has been taking the tailoring training for two months.

She said that by learning tailoring, she has managed to overcome the psychological pressure of being deprived of education.

"I found hope in life again after joining the training," she said. "While school is closed to me, the start of this training centre saved me from mental pressure and being stuck at home."

"If we cannot go to school, then it is better to at least learn a vocation," Samia said. "Sitting at home and waiting is useless. All of us girls should have an active presence in society. Restrictions should not impede our development."

Fazila Raoufi, 24, a junior political science student at Kandahar University, said being away from the university and her studies is very difficult for her, but given the circumstances, she is happy to be able to work at the tailoring centre.

"In the current difficult situation where all doors are closed to girls and women, the launch of this training centre has given us hope and motivation," she said. "I would have had to bear the mental pressure of being stuck at home, had it not been for this training centre."

"We girls call on the international aid agencies to provide more such opportunities for the deprived Afghan girls," she said. "If there are opportunities, most girls prefer going outside their homes and being active in society."

If Afghan girls gain more support from the international community, they can fight the restrictions and deprivation with greater strength, Raoufi added.

Supporting household economy

While girls are learning tailoring, they also are paid monthly for working and sewing clothes at the centre.

Palwasha, 21, a freshman political science student at Kandahar University, said she was very keen to serve her country after her graduation, but with the closure of universities, her dreams were shattered.

"When the universities were closed, I was very upset. My life completely turned dark, but I found hope again after enrolling for the training, and I'm once again motivated," she said.

"I have a monthly 3,000 AFN [$35] income at the tailoring centre, which I use to support my family," Palwasha said.

"My father was working for the government, but he lost his job more than a year and a half ago and is now jobless. Although 3,000 AFN is a small amount, it is a great support in the current situation."

Palwasha said she is trying to develop her skills to open a tailoring shop in the future so that in addition to creating jobs for other girls and women, she can support her family economically.

Shukria, 16, an 11th grader in Kandahar city, also said she is very happy that after a long period of uncertainty and being stuck at home, she has joined the tailoring training.

"When schools and learning centres were closed to us, there was no other way for me to go out of my home and be active in society," she said. "This tailoring centre is a good opportunity for us girls to learn skills."

Making some money is an added bonus, she said. "This money is good support to my family and covers our expenses to an extent."

"I want to become a skilled tailor to support my family economically," she added.

While women and girls suffer from increasing restrictions and deprivations, this tailoring centre has become a window of hope and a light in the darkness, Shukria said.

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Preparing the field of handicrafts and vocational training is very good news for the women. Compared to anything, this is a priority for Afghan women in this difficult situation to provide them with the fields of handicrafts and professional education because most women are responsible for their families and have to earn a living for their families. So this is a good way, there is dignity in it and it is a continuous work. We hope these women will be prioritized by relief organizations so that they can work and get rid of mental and emotional problems.


Curse on this organization. Instead of giving a home to the girls through tailoring, they may immediately close their activities. They may collect their luggage and get lost. Half of Afghanistan turned to charity organizations, while half changed to vocational occupations. Who will do the education? Who will put this country in line with the rest of the world, but at least in the list of developing countries? Why are you letting the Afghan children grow illiterate? Today, the Taliban closed girls' schools; tomorrow, they will say that girls should not go to school, so how will a girl participate in your program, and how will she write the little writing required? Just eliminate these useless programs that will push women to one side, and you push them to the other. Either have a proper plan for the future of Afghanistan or leave things in their place. The Taliban say one thing, and you say another thing. What a game is going on! For God's sake, bags of dollars are coming every month; the taxes are increasing daily here in Afghanistan. The Taliban only collects money and distributes it to their followers; The rest of the population spends the whole day on the road waiting for charity organizations. If the American and international dollars come this way, we do not want it. Please stop it and tell the Taliban clearly that either open the doors of knowledge or all of us, the organizations, will stop our work...


I'm afraid I have to disagree with you that the organizations should stop their activities in our beloved country. These same organizations you insulted give enough profit to the people every month. If not much, this little help counts for a lot. You also have concluded that people are forced to beg. So, if they are forced to beg, it is better as they can get something, and if this would not happen, human disaster will occur. Let it be good for someone. Whatever it is, the important thing is that we study and become ready to work as a result of our studies. If this same tailoring program that seems insignificant to you is adequately followed and learned to sew, I am sure that a girl could fulfill half of her family's expenses.


I was walking in a neighborhood of Kabul city. I passed through one of the famous markets in Kabul where I noticed that very few women are buying clothes in women's clothing stores on the eve of Eid al-Fitr. Every shopkeeper calls out sir, what do you need, come in the shop and etc. The shopkeeper came out of his shop and called the people to enter the shop, asking them what do they need? I understood that there are no customers and that's why the shopkeeper comes out of his shop and calls the people to go to their shops to buy clothes. If this training course is for these educated girls to learn sewing and earn money for themselves and their families from this sewing training, it is wrong because, if all the girls become tailors or make their own clothes, then who will buy the clothes? In almost two years, according to the Salaam Times newspaper reports that I read, tailoring training courses have been started by foreign organizations in every province. It is not a solution for girls deprived of going to school to teach all girls how to sew. Afghanistan is facing many problems, the origin of all these problems is America. If the school gates are closed, if people are suffering from economic problems, all these miseries in Afghanistan, the main causes behind all these miseries are America. When 80% of the people in a country do not have enough to buy food, how can people buy clothes? If the economy of a country is not stable and 80% of the people of a country are unemployed, w


What does it mean? Please be aware of what you are writing while writing a message. You have focused on two issues. One is that the sewing skills that unemployed girls learn are useless. What? Why is it useless? Is it useless to learn a skill, a profession, a business? Nope. Please understand that the schools were closed by the Taliban government. The Taliban implement the policies of Pakistan and finally the policies of Britain in the region. The policy of Pakistan and Britain for several decades is that Afghans should be kept uneducated. When our people are uneducated, the enemies of Afghanistan can easily recruit from among them. And when a girl remains illiterate, it means that tomorrow's mother remains illiterate. When the mother is illiterate, her children grow up to be illiterate and ill-mannered, who do not know their family responsibility, local responsibility, national responsibility, religious and Islamic responsibility... and learning tailoring is better than that girls sit idle at home and suffer from mental illnesses, in absence of schools. Even tomorrow, when the school gates are opened for the girls, they can go back to their schools. Second, you talked about blaming America. This claim of yours is also baseless. When you make a claim, please state your reasons. Did America tell Abdullah Abdullah not to accept the election commission's decision and declare himself the president? Did America tell Atta Mohammad Noor to stand in front of the government and run Bal


Since the doors to girls' education are closed, such programs are indeed an example of positive action in women's lives; however, time has shown that the word is one thing and the action is something different. In the effectiveness of such programs, it is useful to form a strong monitoring team and evaluate them after every two weeks. One of the keys to the success of such issues is that any program that is started should be carried out continuously and in the future, in addition to this, more programs should also be worked on.