In honour of Women’s History Month, we’re celebrating some of the wonderful women making history in their communities across Afghanistan.

Basira, for example, is a single mother living in a mountainous village in Afghanistan with her son, Tariq, his wife, and their 4 young children. “In the winter months it is very cold and it is difficult for families here. We use our animals to feed our family but we never had any way of making money, and our animals did not provide us with much over the winter, so often we would go hungry,” she recalls.

Like so many other women across Afghanistan, Basira is illiterate and has never been given the chance to earn a living. This traps families in a cycle of poverty and puts households headed by women at serious risk.

Please make a donation today to support vulnerable women like Basira

“We women spend our days cleaning, preparing food for our families, washing clothes and taking care of our children and the animals,” says Basira. Whilst these are important tasks, women like Basira hold a huge amount of untapped potential and skill, “my mother taught me how to make these rugs when I was younger, so we have something to put in our home. My grandmother taught her this skill before, and her mother before this. It is something I can also pass on to my grandchildren.”

“Last year, Afghanaid brought a group of 20 of us women together in a Self-Help Group, and together we are learning how to use our money wisely.” The benefits of these groups are wide-reaching for the women involved, “We are all friends in the group - it is fun and we are very happy to be learning new things together. I have learned how to sell the products I make, like these rugs, and now for the first time my family has a source of income. My son works very hard on our land, but this is to provide our family with food and with wool from the sheep to make jumpers and blankets for us to keep warm. Now that I am earning an income, I can buy things like school supplies for my grandchildren, as well as paying for their tuition, nutritious food, oil, tea, and other household things. This has improved our lives so much.”

Basira’s granddaughter, Susan, commented, “Going to school is really fun - I am in first grade. I especially like learning about literature and seeing my friends." 

Basira’s confidence has grown already and she is now looking to the future with hope, “Next year, I will take part in Afghanaid’s dairy processing course. I am very excited for this to start. I will learn how to use our cow to make butter, yoghurt, paneer and all sorts of things, that my family can eat and I can sell in the market. I know this will be a great thing for us in so many ways! The training is taking place a short walk away so it will be very easy for me and the other women to get there. This is very important for us because it does not take up too much of our time and if the weather is bad we can still get there.”

As a trusted presence in these communities, Afghanaid is able to approach sensitive topics around women’s rights, including a woman’s right to education and work, with a huge amount of acceptance. “My son and the other men in our village are very encouraging of the women learning new things – they know this is a good thing for everyone, so everyone is happy!”

Please make a donation today to support more women like Basira