By Anita Haidary, co-founder of Young Women for Change
On February 8th, 2013, Young Women for Change (YWC) launched Zeb. Zeb, like Sahar Gul internet cafe is a section of YWC, which helps promote business women and designers. The event launched the career of two Afghan Designers, Salma Bayat and Banu Zeerak. It is the first time that Afghan girls from within Afghanistan are promoting their designs to an Afghan audience, specifically women.
This event was held in a local restaurant, Sufi Restaurant, which is locally designed and shows an old traditional house of Kabul. YWC is a non-profit organization; therefore, it doesn’t have money to pay places to hold our events. Our events always have been held in places that have been generous enough to donate their space for a specific amount time for YWC. As YWC has very limited or most of the time no funding through grants, it is vital for our organization to host fundraising events.
YWC does not apply for funds unless very important for a specific project. This specific event was a fundraiser for YWC and a step to sustain Zeb Designs. We did not send out formal media invitations because of security reasons. However the event was publically published on the YWC Facebook page. As our page is open to the public, anyone had access to event.
YWC wanted to support women in business because we believe in that grassroots efforts that support women in becoming financially independent that led to the greater empowerment of Afghan Women. Financial independency directly affects their education, health, and decision making abilities. For example, most women can’t go to doctor when they are sick just because they have to ask for money from their spouses. Girls can’t go to schools because they can’t pay for their uniform and books.
These designer clothes are one of the ways for women, who are unable to go out of their houses, to work and earn for themselves. Business women need support to be launched in the Afghan market and YWC, as a women-led organization, believes in helping women and launching their voices in the society especially if the effects are going to women directly. The unique aspect of Zeb is that these clothes are branded and designed by Afghan women for Afghan women.
This is also directly connected to our first campaign against harassment. Women are not only harassed on the street but also in shops, markets, and tailoring shops run by men.
There are countless stories detailing the harassment in tailoring shops while noting measurement. Furthermore, they have to go through this harassment because they have no other options because there are very few women tailors due to lack to skills, education and funds. The market is filled with clothes that are imported from Pakistan, China and Iran. Thus, Afghans are losing their style as they are forced to wear designs from other countries. This is one of the ways to open Afghan market and bring attention to the Afghan style of clothing. This is an option for women to go to women tailors. Also wear clothes designed according to their culture.
We thank people who came out and supported us. We extend our gratitude to Mr. Ajmal Parasa and Morcha Band, the first Afghan rock band; Thank you for donating your time and art to YWC. Lastly, we are also thankful for Galleria for letting us borrow their men’s wear.
YWC believes in launching businesses that support the voice and rights of women. Thus, we are excited about supporting Zeb.
Young Women for Change is an independent non-profit organization consisting of dozens of volunteer women and male advocates across Afghanistan.
It was established to empower women across Afghanistan and recruit them to the struggle for gender equality.