Women in Bamiyan province set up successful art bazaar

TMP – 07/09/2017

In Bamiyan province in central Afghanistan a group of women have returned home from life as migrants in Iran and Pakistan and are now running a successful art bazaar.

Five years ago, the founders of the art bazaar took out a small loan to set up the handicraft market near the Buddhas of Bamiyan, a popular tourist attraction. Today, they sell a wide range of traditional handicrafts to tourists visiting the area, enabling local woman to supplement their income, help support their families and educate their children.

One of the founders of the bazaar, Uzra Lali, whose husband works with her in the bazaar shop, says she is now earning a good income from the handicraft market.

Zahra, another seller in the bazaar, also owns a handicraft workshop outside of Bamiyan that now employs 40 women who produce handmade items. These products are not just sold inside Afghanistan but are also exported to India and Holland.

Kobara, a woman who lives in Bamiyan, says that when she was young she used to make handicrafts at home.  She is now employed and paid to do this in one of the handicraft workshops that supply the bazaar, where she has been working for three years.

The art bazaar is thriving despite initial concerns by some of the women that they would be prohibited from setting up their own shops. It provides an opportunity for the local women to supplement the income their family would normally earn from agriculture.
Lali has ambitions to showcase her handicraft products at exhibitions in Europe and to demonstrate the skills of the women working with her. She also wants to spread her message of peace – ‘peace by needles’.