Zahra J. is a young married woman with two sons. She lives in Kabul and now teaches artisanship to about a dozen students at home and at an office. She was born in Iran, the youngest in a family with ten children.
Many years ago when there was war, my family went to Iran. This is my first time living in my own country. I was tired of living in a foreign country. As a child I always wanted to help my country, so I decided to come to Kabul and help educate Afghan women.
I will describe my daily life. First, I am a housewife busy with cooking and house chores. Second, in the afternoon I switch to my home work place and begin teaching my students. I go to the office two days per week. I have some students over there as well. My husband has a store near the house. I work in an Iranian office from 2 to 5 p.m. and I work on handicrafts in my free time.
I have ten to fifteen students and I teach them the art of designing on fabric by hand. I also receive orders from some malls and shops.
I learned this art from a TV channel in Iran and when I came to Afghanistan I wanted to teach Afghan women. Fortunately, the women really liked and encouraged this art.
One of the problems we face as Afghan women in business is the lack of electricity. Most of our work uses electricity and if it’s not available we can’t teach our students. Fortunately, we have electricity in the city where we live but many cities in Afghanistan do not.
For women who want to have their own businesses, I would say that first of all, women who think of having a business shouldn’t get frustrated. They should continue working on it. Second, their parents and husbands should encourage them so they can be successful.
With good security and enough support, there are many business opportunities for Afghan women, including craftsmanship, tailoring, and designing on fabric.
There are some organizations that guide Afghan women. One of them is the Ministry of Women’s Affairs. Through this ministry, Afghan women work in many businesses and have learned various lessons. At Bagh-E-Zanana (the Women’s Park) they have a chance to sell and present their arts.
I hope Afghan women will be successful in any work they enjoy. As a child, I wanted to serve my country. In God’s mercifulness I came to Afghanistan. Here my work was unknown to people but I was able to train and help guide women to a better future.
By Zahra J., as told to Fatima F.