As an Afghan woman living in America, my heart is still very much in the beautiful backdrop of my home country and I think of it every day, especially the women who live there, in fear. Without doubt, the country is going through the most appalling conflict since the Taliban gained control just a few months ago. The conflict in Afghanistan doesn’t seem to ever abate and I pray that over the coming years, there will be positive changes to the people of Afghanistan, that there will be peace and harmony, and the women (men and children) will carry out their daily lives without looking over their shoulders, frightened for their lives.
Empowering Afghan Women
I started The Rug Mine with a mission in mind. As well as my lifelong passion for Afghan rugs, I wanted to empower Afghan women financially and economically, so they could contribute to their families’ income and even become the breadwinners themselves. It hurts me inside when I hear that the girls going to school in my home country are suddenly from last month no longer allowed to study past their primary education, while boys can continue their secondary education. It’s devastating to hear that once again, Afghanistan is becoming a closed society to female entrepreneurs and women who want to learn—women who want to have a better life for them and their children. The struggle for women has been ongoing for over 40 years, with war dominating the scenery and wrecking women’s human rights, as well as setting them back financially. I know first-hand the impact of war in Afghanistan. My own mother and many other female members of my family have endured at least half a dozen wars. I count my blessings that I escaped the war in Afghanistan, came to America and was lucky enough to start my own business, doing something I love—The Rug Mine.
Women’s Role in Rug-Making
My rug business pays homage to Afghanistan’s past and present. The knots, natural dyes, and tribal designs are stories wrapped up in stunning pieces of art that are made by master craftsmen and that’s because, despite the recent conflicts in Afghanistan, I continue to work with my home country’s talented artisans. It’s important to express the role that women play in rug-making in Afghanistan. While of course, both men and women are integral parts of the Afghan rug-making process, most of the artisans who weave my rugs are women, because of their nimble fingers and sheer artistic talent.
These gifted women rug-makers today are often the primary breadwinners in their families and at the moment, they are able to continue working and earning a living. That’s because they work from the comfort of their own homes, no matter what region they live in Afghanistan. Under the Taliban’s rule, most of the restrictions against women’s work apply to work in offices or public places where women cannot segregate from men. Because female artisans have historically worked from the comfort of their homes, they are so far safe from these restrictions.
Rug making isn’t just in the cities, there are talented artisan women from all over Afghanistan—in urbanized centers and in rural villages. My role is integral to these women’s businesses too. I am proud to be one of a handful of small businesses that continues to provide these women jobs in Afghanistan, through The Rug Mine. Now, more than ever, my role is paramount. It’s crucial that these women still have a job, that they can still provide for themselves and their families because as everyone knows, Afghanistan once again dominates the news as it is facing both an economic and humanitarian crisis.
How I’m Helping Afghan Women in Crisis
The continuing struggles of the people of Afghanistan has been on my mind for months now. Of course, these women are always on my mind, but the crisis is occupying much of my thinking time. While I know I’m already helping the women of Afghanistan, I wanted to do more. So, I am expanding my inventory which means more job creation for artisan craftsmen, especially women who make up the majority of the weavers. In the last year, my business has gone from an inventory of just one Afghan rug to over 700 true beauties in my catalog. I hope to grow this number more—to over 1,000 hand-woven carpets by 2022.
Women for Afghan Women (WAW)
There’s more that I’m doing to help the women of Afghanistan. In addition to my own support for female artisans by empowering them financially, I have partnered with Women for Afghan Women (WAW https://womenforafghanwomen.org/), a very worthwhile organization that helps women and children all over Afghanistan by providing programs that change lives. The type of services includes education, vocational training and counseling. The main aim of the organization is to help Afghan women and girls exercise their rights to pursue their individual potential to self-determination, and to be represented in all areas of life, social, cultural, political and economics. I am donating 10% of profits from all sales during the month of October to the WAW. Every penny of my donation will support the organization’s work and I am delighted that I can play my part in helping these women, hoping to ease their suffering and give them a better, brighter future that they can look forward to.
You Can Make a Difference Too
As well as providing donations to the WAW by visiting their website and perhaps volunteering or running a fundraiser or even just sharing their posts on your own social media channels, you can of course, help me too.
If you love my Afghan rugs as much as I do, and wish to add one to your home, just think of the impact that rug will make! Not only will it add a new dimension to your home décor and create a conversation starter with guests, but it will also help Afghan women and their families secure more financial freedoms, especially as their social and political struggles continue. Click here to view my Afghan carpet collection and make a difference in the lives of the women of Afghanistan.