By: Shukria Kohistani
Women in Afghanistan, have seen many changes in their economic, social, cultural and poltical lives over the last many years.
Women made significant progress in many fields, including access to education, job opportunities and career.
However they faced many challenges in their way to provide better economic facilities for their households, the most important of which is that they are yet to achieve their true status and equal rights as men.
They tried to take advantage of the available opportunities to prove themselves as a key member of the society, as well as they, in recent years, made effort to contribute to the economic cycle of their families, besides appearing socio-political activists, as they are now making between 3 to 5 percent of the country’s economy.
They are also making up to 80 percent of humane source in the fields of exports, such as carpets, saffron, cleaning dried fruits and the like, helping the country reach the international markets in recent years. Aydah Shopping Center is one of the business centers located in Shahr-e-Naw (New City) of the capital Kabul, where it was named after Ayeda, a distinguished woman with higher education and business and a designing skills. The shop center has started its economic activities for 5 years, during which it has been able to order and offer all kinds of Afghan, European, and Tajik clothes to the market.
“I have been working in this center for a year and during this period, we prepare all kinds of clothes ordered to us from inside and outside the country,” Tahmina, a member of the center told The Kabul Times adding the store operates both physically and online. To a query, if the center export products abroad, Tahmina said: “To many countries, we have exports and also the center send Afghanistan made-jewelry to the international markets.”
The Ayeda export its products to India, America, France, Pakistan, UAE and other countries, she added. “Of course, people are interested in purchasing our products as we offer based on their favor and interests.” Whether the center has its own market to offer its products, she added: “Undoubtedly, having market is very important for our products and that we have markets for our products both inside and outside the country and our work is going well, however, we do not have so many orders in winter season.” She went on a saying that the center receive many orders during summer.
It worth mentioning that Ayeda Shopping Center has also exhibitions of clothes and ornaments on special days, as well as exhibitions on Women’s Day, and has prepared clothes for this purpose. She added the center prepares the materials used in making jewelry and clothes from abroad and inside the country and that both men and women workers are engaged in the work of making jewelry and clothes in this center. During COVID-19 lockdown the Ayeda was the first center that offered activities and services online at home and abroad and at that time there was no center to compete the center in the market. According to her, in the current situation, we have both positive and negative competition; the negative competition meant that most stores works is a copy of us or sometimes they lure our workers by paying big money.
The prices of clothes vary from one to 10,000 Afghanis and each dress costs was based on the order.
“If the sales are high, the income could also go higher.” To conclude with, she called on men not to harass women who want to work outside their homes, as she believed women who work outside home are not supported by men and are seen as inferior by their family members in many remote areas of the country, particularly under conflict. Afghanistan is one of the few countries not being a good place for women to grow since the past 40 years and women have always appeared as a weak creature and this is why they have always faced many problems. However, since the Taliban regime collapse in 2001, recent developments gave hope for a brighter future for them all over the country.