Businesswomen in western Afghanistan express concerns over stagnant growth and losses

A group of businesswomen in western Afghanistan have expressed raised concerns about stagnant growth since the Taliban’s return, with several reporting significant financial losses.

The Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the western zone of Afghanistan resumed its operations last week after an almost two-year period of inactivity.

Members of the chamber have complained about the worsening environment for working women and the state of the economy which disproportionately impact women more.

Adabia Nawruzi, representing Ghor province at the chamber’s opening meeting, says that her poultry farm has stagnated since the Taliban’s return. Before that, she adds, she employed a group of women whom she had to dismiss.

Najla Hussaini, who traveled from the northwestern province of Badghis, echoes similar sentiments. She says that the Taliban’s restrictions of women have been a severe blow to businesswomen. Having run a carpet weaving factory in Badghis for over a decade, she has had to cut her workforce from over fifty women to just ten.

Jamila Sadeqi from Herat has been in the saffron processing and export business for ten years. After a six months halt following the Taliban’s return, she resume work. But her company has been forced to cut its workforce from over a hundred women to only twenty.

The Taliban has imposed over 50 restrictive measures on women and girls since regaining power.

According to a World Bank survey, within five months of the Taliban assuming power, women’s engagement in the private sector had plummeted by 75%. Furthermore, research conducted in November 2022 revealed that during this period, approximately half of the previously employed women had lost their jobs. The impact of these measures was particularly pronounced among women in urban areas who possessed higher levels of education and training.

Meanwhile, Adabia Waziri, the head of the Women’s Chambers of Commerce and Industry in the western region, highlights that women’s businesses in Herat have experienced a minimum decline of 30% since the political change.

“Following the regime change, a significant number of women chose to leave, and those who remained faced stagnation within their businesses,” she stated.