Herat woman creates hundreds of jobs for girls deprived of schooling

A woman entrepreneur in the western province of Herat has provided job opportunities for hundreds of women and girls who have been deprived of education amid the Taliban’s ban on them attending schools and universities.

Nafas Gul Jami, the entrepreneur, said she did the same 27 years ago, during the first Taliban regime in Afghanistan when women and girls were banned from education and working across the country.

For her, it is a repeat of history, but she says the idea is to create hope among the young generation who are desperate to get an education and improve their situation, no matter what the circumstances are.

Jami has invested at least $50,000 in a firm that produces carpets, foods and clothes.

“Besides food, I want to add another section of arts for women students where they would be able to have an income,” said Jami.

“The issues in the way of women have created hopelessness that impedes their improvement but I am hopeful for them,” Jami said.

Students who are working at the firm said that they were facing mental health issues after being deprived of getting an education but they chose to work as tailors or food processing employees to get an income and confront the challenging mental situation they are dealing with.

“Previously, we were working in the pickles-making section. Now we’re working on tailoring. At least 100 women are working and there is a plan to bring in 1,000 more,” said Fariha, a student.

“I am happy to work here but it would be good for us if we continued our education,” said Zahra, a student.

Secondary schools have been closed for girls for almost two years, while women were banned from attending universities last December. In addition, women are banned from working in non-governmental organizations in the country, including the United Nations.

Previously, Herat had 1,500 women entrepreneurs but based on figures by the women’s chamber of commerce, the number has dropped to about 450 over the past two years under Taliban rule.