When times are tough, Nafas Gul Bakhtanai shows exceptional toughness. Forced to flee Afghanistan on account of the Taliban, she worked in a shoe factory in Pakistan. Returning to Jalalabad 12 years later, she refused to be disheartened by the fact that jobs were scarce and her husband could not support their family of nine. Instead, Nafas scraped the money together to buy 14 kilos of wheat. She turned it into farina, selling the cereal to put food on the table.
All too often, Kamila Sidiqi is the only woman at business meetings and she is very aware that her presence makes some of the men uncomfortable. To Kamila, this is proof that her current venture is crucial.
When Kandahar held a jobs fair, it was a first for Afghanistan’s second largest city. Eight private firms attended and it drew 33 job seekers, nine of them women. Till then, says Haji Nazir Ahmed who works in a local business, the city’s employment practices relied on knowing someone’s antecedents rather than their abilities.
Najiba’s family did not fully appreciate its benefits when they reluctantly allowed her to participate in livestock extension training. The 19-year-old helped her father raise karakul, the sheep whose wool is used to make hats and coats. But Afghan karakul did not usually command high prices internationally. And Najiba and her father struggled to support their family of nine.
A unique exercise is underway at Alberoni University in Afghanistan’s Kapisa province. A small demonstration plot has been prepared and 170 agriculture students are being trained in modern farming techniques. It is part of USAID’s Incentives Driving Economic Alternatives for the North, East and West (IDEA-NEW) program to update the students’ knowledge and skills and compensate for the lack of practical training at most Afghan universities.
Last updated: January 16, 2015