In the Kandahar province of Afghanistan, decades of war have left thousands of women widowed and financially responsible for their families. Kandahar Treasure, the first for-profit enterprise founded and run by women in Afghanistan, employs 400 women to practice the world-renowned art of Khamak embroidery. Conservative and patriarchal traditions leave over 90% of Kandahar women illiterate, which allows them little mobility outside the home. At Kandahar Treasure, not only can women respectably earn a sufficient income, but they can also take the opportunity to study literacy, healthcare, and financial management. This combined set of skills equips Kandahar artisans with the means to gain socioeconomic independence, and to reshape cultural perceptions of gender roles.
"I have 7 children and I never thought that it was my duty to help my family until my husband lost his job and I was forced to come out of the house to work for my family. It was hard in the beginning, but after a while I realized that working and earning an income gave me independence and confidence that I never thought I had!"