Massoma is twenty-five with three children and has worked at the Silk World factory, called Donyai Abrisham, in Herat province for two years. She remembers the hard times before she got her job at the factory.
“When I was jobless we had lots of problems, as my husband is a laborer. Our life was very difficult. I am uneducated and I could not support my family. When I heard about this center I joined up. Now I can support my family. Our economic situation is getting better day by day. My children can go to school.”
Massoma works eight hours a day. She is paid according to how much silk she weaves.
She has a job thanks to Sadiqa Tamasoki, a powerful businesswoman who, over the last six years, has established four silk weaving and training centers in different Herat neighborhoods: the Herat citadel, Karta, Asya Kolokhi, and Darb e Qandahar.
When women are hired they are paired with someone who teaches them the skills required to weave silk. For the heavy work there are a few men who work in the factories, too.
Tamasoki also has several shops in Herat’s Khadijatul Kubra market where women work as shopkeepers.
For six years, Tamasoki has worked to provide jobs for women so they can work on their own, support their family, and improve their economic situation.
She heads the Donyai Abrisham (Silk World), as well as the Silk Production Union and Silk Clothing in Herat. She is second deputy of the Specialized Committee of Business Women in Herat province.
In an interview with AWWP, Tamasoki said: “Since starting working with silk cloth, I have graduated about 152 students. After learning everything, some of them now have their own business in their homes and twenty-two women are working directly with me in the centers. We produce three kinds of cloth: a 100 percent silk cloth, which is very expensive, cotton cloth, and mixed silk cloth.”
“Every day each machine can produce two meters of silk cloth. But if we could industrialize and upgrade the old machines to new models we could produce more than that. We produce lots of men’s clothing such as silk neckties, jackets, and long coats. And for women we produce bags, shoes, jackets, scarves, dresses, coats, and skirts.”
She added, “The market for silk production is improving, but there is no good marketing in the bazaar, and the production people are faced with this problem.”
She said that she could not export production to other countries because of lack of facilities. “Our products are selling in the world market under the name of a Pakistan producer.”
Because Herat had a good reputation for silk production in the past, the government supports the company’s work to improve the industry and to help provide jobs for people.
At age fifty, Sadiqa Tamasoki is a powerful woman with many challenges, but she does not stop and she continues her work. A widow for fifteen years, she is the mother of six children. She is very talented and arranges all her work by herself. Afghanistan needs such women to improve.
Sahar Ghase, just one customer who buys from a Tamasoki shop, recalled how hard it was ten years ago for women to shop.
“During the Taliban period women could not even go out to shop, but now women can shop by themselves. And they can have a part in business, which is very important for women to improve themselves and their economic situation.”
She said, “I really love the products produced in our country and silk is my favorite cloth. Whenever I wear silk clothing I am proud of myself because it is something that Afghan women have made and I can say to everyone how women’s lives in Afghanistan are improving.”
I really enjoyed reading your article. It resonated with me on many levels; my husband is in construction, for example, so at once that little detail brought Massoma close to my heart. Having visited silk factories in Uzbekistan I was intrigued to read about Afghanistan’s silk industry, and your article prompted me to google pictures to see the Afghan side of it – those article were all about men of course so it was really interesting to hear about women too. I hope Mrs Tamasoki can go online herself one day and sell direct!
Thanks for a fascinating article,