Empowering Women in Afghanistan through Fair Trade
Afghanistan is part of the orginal "hippy trail" and has a great history of textiles, arts and crafts. But war and conflict have meant that in modern times it's become a difficult place to visit, and Afghan products like handmade textiles, clothing and accessories are difficult to find in the West, compared to those from other countries in Asia.
From The Source are working with Zardozi, an Afghan non-governmental organisation, to bring fair trade products to the UK and enable women in Afghanistan to generate income through skilled work. Fair Trade in Afghanistan can help tackle poverty, empower women and gennerate sustainable and long term international economic relationships built on trust and respect.
We currently have a range of beautiful, hand-embroidered cases and bags from Zardozi in Afganistan available online, and are planning to bring on new lines of fair trade products from Afghanistan this year. The fabric glasses cases with zangeera ("chain stitch") embroiderey are particularly stunning! Bringing small products such as these to the international market is a step towards building new relationships with Afghanistan and helping people to overcome poverty in conflict-affected areas.
The story of Zardozi - Markets For Afghan Artisans
Zardozi was launched as an income generating project to assist some of the women in the thousands of families who arrived across the border from Afghanistan into Pakistan when fighting started.
Today thousands of Afghan women earn a steady income from embroidery and handicraft production thanks to Zardozi.
The money which the women earn from producing and selling embroidery and handicrafts empowers them in many diverse ways. Many of the women use their income to support their children’s education, in particular taking their children away from carpet work and sending them to school. Other women spend money on pregnancy check ups – often for the first time in their lives despite multiple pregnancies. All of the women describe having an income of their own as life changing in terms of achieving status as individuals in their families and communities and allowing them some control over their own lives.
Zardozi supports women producers of handicrafts and clothing in several ways. Several thousand women for example, produce directly for the Zardozi shop located in Kabul. This shop sells mostly to foreigners and exports in a small way.
Women working for the shop live in rural areas in eastern Afghanistan and in the refugee camps in border areas.
Zardozi also works with approximately 1,000 other women who live closer to markets in poor urban areas. The organisation assists these women to start small businesses selling handicrafts and clothing to shopkeepers and traders.
Finally, Zardozi works with more than 20 very small businesses in the handicraft sector helping them to improve their business and production skills so that they can increase their profits and expand.