Christian Aid is helping thousands of women in Western Afghanistan earn an income through silk production, through a programme supported by the Monsoon Accessorize Trust.
Our partner Rehabilitation Association and Agricultural Development for Afghanistan (RAADA) has provided farmers with materials, equipment and solar power to help modernise the traditional silk industry. They have also provided training in skills such as natural dying and made links with local business centres and Fairtrade organisations to help with marketing.
Silk products from Zindajan are now being sold in new markets, including overseas. A key aim of the project was to help widows and women-headed households to earn money. Christian Aid helped to set up the Zanan Herat Silk Production Company, a collective of 1,500 women, with its own elected board.
Advocacy furthers the cause
As well as contributing to economic development in the district, the company has also functioned as a female-led advocacy group, helping to make a big difference for women in Zindajan. Women are now represented in district and provincial authority meetings, and more girls in the area are now getting an education.
Women across the district are taking advantage of new opportunities to work in silk processing centres or in home-based silk weaving.
The families have benefited in various ways from this programme. Women spend their income on their children and send them to school to create a better future for them.’
Maryam Sheikh, head of the company, said: ‘The families have benefited in various ways from this programme. Women spend their income on their children and send them to school to create a better future for them.
‘The awareness-raising programmes for women, like workshops and training, were also very useful and brought a change in our community. Through this progamme, women have their own income and are more independent, they have benefited a lot and now they can even help their husbands with household expenses.’
Maryam has benefited personally as well. She added: ‘My family didn’t have trust in me and always said that women cannot work. I had an interview with Herat National TV and talked about our company and the women’s activities. My friends and neighbours saw it and told my father. He was very happy then and encouraged me to continue working for the community.’