Jawzjan woman entrepreneurs lament hurdles to work

By Muhammad Qasem

Women examine handicrafts at an exhibition in Sheberghan, Jawzjan province, July 27. [Courtesy of Atiqullah Ibrahimzada]

Women examine handicrafts at an exhibition in Sheberghan, Jawzjan province, July 27. [Courtesy of Atiqullah Ibrahimzada]

SHEBERGHAN -- At a handicraft exhibition in Jawzjan, female entrepreneurs displayed their work with the hope of boosting sales and raising awareness about the problems they face from continued restrictions on women's work and education.

The exhibition in Sheberghan city, held July 27 with support from Save the Children, featured 17 types of handicrafts and agricultural products produced by about 100 women.

Parnian Shahidi, 32, one of the women participating in the exhibition, said the restrictions on women's work have caused economic problems for families and have also left a psychological impact on women.

"Every occupation has been taken away from women and girls, which is a major economic and educational blow to households," she said.

Despite such measures, some businesswomen have tried to continue their activities, but the prevailing atmosphere has hindered them, Shahidi said.

"The problem is that some companies where men and women used to work together in the past are either closed or have no operations," she said.

"Even if they operate, they do so in fear because men and women may not be present together [under the current guidelines], even though some production activities require the participation of both."

Forced to close

The lack of a market for female entrepreneurs to sell their products is another challenge to families' economic situation.

"My business was very good [before August 2021]. I could provide for my family with my income from selling handicrafts, but now our products have no buyers," said Alia Ghafoori, 30, who has been producing various types of handicrafts for the past 10 years.

"Unfortunately, women have lost their capital and are faced with a lack of capital and domestic and foreign markets," she said.

"If this situation continues, in four to five months all woman-owned small and large enterprises will be forced to close their doors," warned Ghafoori, a mother of four and the breadwinner of her family.

Over the past two years, women have been systematically removed from education, work and public spaces, and are continuing to face limitations in the few areas where they are still active, activists say.

"Afghan women and girls face serious challenges, especially economic and social," said Masooma Mohammadi, 35, a women's rights activist in Jawzjan. "Female breadwinners are not able to provide for their families because of the restrictions on women."

"Women's social, economic and entrepreneurial activities are slowly and gradually ceasing," she said. "All these restrictions on women directly affect households' economic well-being, putting them in a bad situation."

"Women had great achievements in recent years, but if women are not supported, at least their achievements should not be lost," said Sangi Mah, 37, a visitor to the exhibition.

"I know women and girls here who have been engaged in the production and sale of various types of handicrafts for years and provide for their families ... but now most of them seem to have lost hope," she said.

Supporting women's work

Islam imposes no restrictions on women working outside their homes, said Mawlawi Abdul Hafiz Karimi, an Afghan religious scholar based in Iran.

"When the hijab is observed, the work environment is Islamic. And if their work does not affect their household responsibilities ... there are no constraints on women working outside home and having an income," he said.

Local officials in Jawzjan also are trying to encourage the business activities of female entrepreneurs.

"Around 4,000 women work in the handicrafts and agricultural production sectors across Jawzjan province and provide for their families," said Mohammad Zarif Faez, director of the Jawzjan Department of Economy.

"We plan to establish a market for women to produce and sell handicrafts and continue their entrepreneurial activities in a safe and peaceful environment," he said.

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Dude, don't publish this sad news anymore. Publish the good news. Our hearts are still bad and sad. In Afghanistan, if someone says that women are being oppressed and their rights are being taken away, are the men placed on the throne and wearing crowns? Every young boy's hopes have been dashed. There is no hope for the future. Their life is tough. It is true that school doors are closed for girls and women are not allowed to work, but the boys who go to school and then attend university studies, and allowed to work, still there is no job opportunity for them. Most of the seats are occupied by the Mullahs, and Mullahs will occupy more seats. This means that boys are also suffering from severe mental problems. We hope that the media will raise their voices in the name of Afghan human rights and tell the international community that the land of Afghanistan is no longer in the hands of humans. Still, instead, it is fallen to the hands of several beasts that must be freed from them...


Holding such exhibitions for women is very good. It is a dream as the ruling system know the role of women in the society and it will have a very positive effect. If officials of the current government bring their women to this exhibition and participate in it, they will be able to see which women are working, who they are and what they are doing. They may convince their husbands and tell them to remove the restrictions on women afterwards.


Afghan women are caught in a difficult situation, all the gates of work are closed to them, women are also God's servants, and God has given freedom to every servant, as long as women wear hijab and consider the Sharia, to work and study. Read what's wrong with this, but it's not like that, instead of this, women and girls are hindered from going to work and study places. Why is there not equal work and education for them in the framework of Sharia? My father, wife and son have lost their breadwinners. They are forced and obliged to work and provide for their family's financial needs. So who doesn't work, what to do, where can they get a piece of bread for their poor families.