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No Going Back To Repression, Afghan Businesswomen Say

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Businesswomen in Afghanistan are adamant that there will be no going back to the days of repression under the Taliban, and that the progress women have made over the past 18 years must not be reversed. Women who have blazed a trial in business since the Taliban were ousted in 2001 say they have come too far to be robbed of their achievements.
“I don’t think Afghan women will ever go back,” Kamila Seddiqi, 41, said. An entrepreneur involved in businesses that include Afghanistan’s first taxi app, Kaweyan Cabs, Seddiqi, who was 18 when the Taliban seized Kabul in 1996, knows all too well how ambition can be smothered. “It was a time when we all thought of studying and learning, and education was the most important thing for us, but our lives changed,” she said. The Taliban banned women from education and work and only let them leave their homes in the company of a male relative. Overnight, women disappeared behind the all-enveloping burqa, their activities restricted to their homes.
Seddiqi and her sisters started a small tailoring business. After the Taliban were ousted, she worked with international organizations before launching her own businesses.
Manizha Wafiq, vice president of Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the business group has 12,000 members, who are involved in areas from media and information technology to private schools, clinics and handicrafts. They had made investments of more than $70 million and their exports earned up to $800 million a year, she said.