The history of the Women’s Association in Western Herat
In 2008 the Afghan Institute for Rural Development founded the Association for the Cultivation of Saffron, initially dominated by men. In the small village of Shakiban, 45 km from the provincial capital Herat, these men were appointed by the council called Shura. A small group of five women were a part of the Shura, because they wanted a say in matters that concerned them too, and they had a great interest to actively participate in the social development of their region.
To improve the socio-economic situation of women, an NGO called HELP e.V. started a survey and assessment of the current situation. Slowly but surely this lead to a fruitful and lasting result. With the aim of forming an autonomous women’s Shura – after many meetings and discussions with the men of the Shura – the women actually succeeded to separate. They regrouped and formed the first independent Women’s Council!
From Women for Women
The Woman’s Council now permanently creates a place where women can interact freely and independently, where conferences, workshops and trainings are being held for women only. Parts of this women’s center are a playground and a kindergarten, as well as an internet café and a tea garden. The Women’s Shura means access to education, employment and information.
There is now a section for agricultural products, in particular fruit and natural saffron cultivation, and the processing of dairy products. The goods are sold in the club’s shop and on the market. Moreover, there are literature, English, and photography courses, computer training opportunities and a beauty salon. The Shura is now registered and officially recognised by the Afghan government as an independent association.
The women produce “Qurut” from fresh milk – an Afghan specialty
A man collecting fire wood
Salem is tasting the still fresh “Quruti”
Desires, hopes, fears
We asked the women-Shura about their visions for the future and we found they have very specific goals: They want to expand their activities, purchase more land to cultivate more saffron, buy new equipment and acquire funds to invest in other areas. But they also carefully look at the recent developments in the country. The growing insecurity and strengthening of Taliban militias could possibly destroy all the achievements. You can read a detailed interview with one of the members of this Shura in the weeks to come.
We from Conflictfood cannot act against the Taliban and interfere in the sometimes very dirty stage of world politics. But at least what we can do, is offering a better economic perspective to people i.e. secure their existence and give them a fair income, so that they can lead a good life more easily. Afghanistan occupies the last place in the ranking of cross-border trade done by the World Bank, so Conflictfood opened new markets to these farmers. You can join us in making a change by buying Saffron made in Afghanistan!