Zahra Kazemi, founder of the Women Weavers of Bamyan has owned her handcrafting business since the times of Taliban regime. Running a business as a woman at that time was really challenging. Her business held on for two years and then was eventually destroyed by the Taliban. After her business was forced to end, she immigrated to Pakistan and got married there. After working for four years from home, she moved back to Afghanistan. Mary Mag Mcken supported her in getting a contract from Canada to produce small size rugs, known as qaleencha. For this contract, she hired 50 women, the very first women in Bamyan to independently support their families. Until 2013, she was operating her business in a small metal bunker-like structure doing embroidery.
She received her official business license in 2013 and decided to expand her staff to 200 women after getting permissions through their families and local mosques. Eventually, the number of workers increased to 400, operating in four districts of Bamyan, Panjaw, Waras, Kawland, and Sheebar. Even with the size of this business, deliveries and distribution are still accomplished by animals and the women work by the light of day on the side of a mountain, having no workshop large enough to house all their workers. The Women Weavers of Bamyan offers handwoven and beautifully embroidered products of silk, cotton, and more made of all-natural materials. The finished handmade products include vests, coats and jackets, laptop bags, backpacks, shoes, sandals, tunics, scarves, and many more. The main objective of Zahra Kazemi was to provide an opportunity for less educated women to learn life skills and provide for their families, allowing stability in their homes and a purpose to hold back the listlessness that comes from living in such a war-torn country.
Bamyan Weavers has allowed nearly 500 women to take charge of their own lives and make a difference in their communities. All the work they do is done by their own hands and they keep all their wages to support their families and villages. ASEEL is proud to partner with Support the Women Weavers of Bamyan to allow them a platform to share their stories and their products with global consumers.