KABUL/DUBAI: This week, dozens of Afghan businesswomen participated in an exhibition in Dubai via video conference to promote carpets, jewelry, dried fruit, and other handmade goods as part of an effort to enter international markets following a decline in employment opportunities for women in Afghanistan under the Taliban.
The three-day event, which began on Thursday and features 26 female-run businesses, is being held at a hotel in Dubai and is being organized by the United Nations Development Programme and the Afghan Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AWCCI).
Most of the business owners participated via video link from Kabul, Afghanistan, where they said that restrictions on women in public life and the country’s struggling economy were limiting their ability to run successful enterprises.
At the Dubai exhibition, Rayhana Karim of the AWCCI said that the organization was working to establish a brand for products under the slogan “Made by Afghan Women” to attract international buyers who would like to help advance women’s rights in Afghanistan.
Consumers in Europe, the United States, and the United Arab Emirates all want to help Afghan women, but no one is giving them a chance, Karim told Reuters.
By purchasing a high-quality item made by women in Afghanistan, “you are helping her to stand on her own two feet, become financially independent, and begin to have a seat at the table.”
After the Taliban took power in 2021 as foreign forces withdrew, the International Labor Organization reported that 25 percent of women’s jobs had vanished. They mentioned that the steady increase in female employment was due in large part to the rise of women-run businesses run out of their homes.
Foreign governments froze assets of the central bank and imposed sanctions on the banking sector, which severely hampered the economy.
Many female nongovernmental organization (NGO) workers have been banned by the Taliban administration, and in some ministries, only men are allowed to work. The Taliban’s acting commerce minister is among those who have expressed their approval of women running their own businesses.
The expo’s businesswomen vowed that they would not give up.
The fall of Afghanistan shattered our hopes, but Afghan women are fighters, and we will continue to put up a fight. We will never let it happen,” said Ziagul Jahani, who makes handmade clothing and carpets in Parwan province’s central city.