Afghanistan: Women’s handicrafts market falls in Ghor

Women’s handicrafts markets in central Ghor province of Afghanistan have been hit hard since the Taliban takeover in August 2021 due to restrictions imposed by the group on Afghan women and the ongoing economic crisis in the country. 

Soraya, who runs a handicrafts workshop in Ghor, stated that handicrafts had a flourishing market before the collapse of Afghanistan into the hands of the Taliban.

She, 27, said that the markets for handmade products have been stagnant after the Taliban banned women from working for non-government organizations (NGOs).

“Before the prohibition of women working in NGOs, some institutions needed sewing, embroidery, embroidery, and other [hand-made products] and I also used to work. But after the Taliban ban, all the women became unemployed, and now there is no work to do,” she said.

Shabnam, a 32-years old craftswoman, also raised her concerns about the restrictions by the Taliban, saying the group has limited space for Afghan women to work.

“We were able to sell everything we made (handicrafts) in the past, now if you embroider a jacket that costs 4,000 to 5,000 Afghanis, no one will buy it for 1,000 to 500 Afghanis,” Shabman said.

The craftswomen also said that no organization has paid attention to promoting handicrafts in Ghor province in the last 18 months.

They added that restrictions on women, poverty, and the high price of clothes and thread and the main causes of the stagnation of handicrafts markets in the province.

A number of women activists in Ghor, meanwhile, stated that the Taliban’s strict laws against women have forced women not to work for NGOs and stunted handicrafts markets in Ghor.

Maryam Jafari, a women’s rights activist in Ghor, said: “women have been excluded from society. Women cannot work, travel freely across the city or sell their handicrafts. Indeed, women are in a bad situation.”

The Taliban officials, however, said that there is no obstacle to the production of women’s handicrafts in Ghor province.

A Taliban official in Ghor said: “the women of Ghor, who are skilled in handicrafts, do their work and there is no prohibition. Women do their work in their homes.”

The Taliban have imposed strict restrictions on Afghan women in the last 45 days; the group banned women from university education and working for NGOs in late December 2022 and ordered all private universities last week not to allow women to sit for the university entrance Kankor exam.