Providing Afghan women with equal access to entrepreneurial funding mechanisms was the focus of a lively UN-backed debate in the sparsely populated western province of Farah.
Some two dozen participants, including representatives from the Afghan Chamber of Commerce, the provincial governor’s office and civil society groups, gathered in the provinces capital to identify ways to increase women’s role in the province’s business and economic development.
The discussion was broadcast through the province’s Donya-e-Naw radio station, reaching an audience estimated at more than 100,000 listeners.
While highlighting the importance of women’s participation in the country’s economic development, those attending the event emphasized the need to establish a formal committee consisting of women entrepreneurs, civil society representatives and provincial officials to meet regularly and discuss issues as the woman work to expand their businesses.
“There are various challenges in Farah trying to cripple our moves forward in business, but it is crystal clear that we will not stop our efforts,” said Marzya Karimi, a women entrepreneur. “The changes are coming slowly, now that we have a bit of an increase in the influence of women in business in the province, but it is a long process here.”
Located in the western part of Afghanistan, Farah, a spacious and sparsely populated province, is mostly rural and underdeveloped, and faces several economic challenges.
The event was supported by the Herat regional office of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). Mohammed Rashid Iraqi, a UNAMA official, said the discussion proved to be a significant step toward facilitating women’s role in the private sector.
“They agreed to set up a committee for implementing the recommendations of the discussion and support the formation of a business women’s association within the umbrella of the chamber of commerce,” said Mr. Iraqi. “The first meeting of the committee is scheduled to take place in the office of Department of Women Affairs.”
UNAMA is mandated to support the Afghan Government and the people of Afghanistan as a political mission that provides good offices; promotes coherent development support by the international community; supports the process of peace and reconciliation; monitors and promotes human rights and the protection of civilians in armed conflict; promotes good governance; and encourages regional cooperation.