Nasser Khesraw Balkhi Road is located in north of Rawaza Mubarak) Hazrat Ali tomb(, in Mazar-e-Sharif city.
There are a lot of clothes, boots, and cosmetics markets around Nasser Khesraw Balkhi Road. At the end of this road, there is a six-story market, next to the Mazar Public Hospital. Balkh municipality officials changed this market name from “Noor Market” to “Khadija Al-Kubra Market” and rented all its shops (which were closed for years due to lack of customers) to businesswomen.
They invited all the female shopkeepers, who worked separately to gather in this market and form a special market for women.
In Khadija Al-Kubra Market, around 900 educated and non-educated women are engaged in the production and sale of industries such as clothes, cosmetics, sweets, etc.
Shopkeeping is Not an Alternative
A number of women who are working in the women’s market of Mazar-e-Sharif say that they don’t choose this job for passion, but they have to do it because the gates of educational institutions are closed to women.
Savita, one of the shopkeepers in this market, who was a university student in the past, says that if the universities are opened for girls, she will continue her studies again.
“Nothing can take the place of education; neither sales nor any other work. Education is valuable. I rent a shop in this market due to not wasting my time.”
In addition, some university graduate students also don’t work in their field and work in this market.
Hajar Nazari, who graduated from mining engineering with a bachelor’s degree, repairs mobile phones in her shop.
“I can repair mobiles and install programs on mobiles that need software.”
She adds: “If there is an opportunity to work in my field, I will undoubtedly work and serve the people through that”.
The six-story Khadija Al-Kubra market has less traffic than other markets because it is exclusively for women.
Sudaba, a shopkeeper in this market, says that although this market is newly established, quality goods are sold in it.
“Unfortunately, women come to this market less often. We demand women come and buy needy things from women.”
A number of women produce and sell their handicrafts in this market. Zainab who makes hand-embroidered clothes such as Gand-Afghani in different colours and displays them around her shop, said that the business is not as prosperous as it used to be. “I used to have 24 students, but now due to poverty and a decrease in sales, I have 12 students.”
Nazia, a customer who comes to the market to buy clothes, says that buying from this market is not like other markets because it’s just for women and men are not allowed to enter this market.
“My husband came with me to the market, he is now waiting outside the market on the road.”
Mina, another customer of this market, talks about the lack of essential supplies.
“Good accessories from well-known companies are not available in this market, because the sellers are new and are not familiar with all the needs of women.”
Job Satisfaction and Lack of Customers
Considering the current situation, several female sellers call this work opportunity for women valuable and hope it will improve in the future.
Manija, a shopkeeper satisfied with her work, and said that she was unemployed before and now that she has a job, should not complain.
“We have customers, but not as many as we expected. I hope that our customers will increase.”
Farida, another shopkeeper says that the sellers in Khadija Al-Kubra market are women and women can easily search for their needs in this market.
“We brought various goods for sale, but we don’t have customers. We ask the ladies to visit this market because the shopkeepers of this market are all women.”
Moreover, Khadija Al-Kubra market officials admit that not many customers visit this market, but they also hope that this market will find more customers in the future.
Pashtana Afghan, a market official says that only a few months have passed since the market’s establishment so people are not familiar with the market yet. “In 120 shops, 900 women work here.”
Since the establishment of the Islamic Emirate in the country, women’s handicrafts have been increasing day by day, but women artisans have always complained lack of a market and asked the authorities to support women’s products inside and outside the country.
Translated by: Sadaf YarmalFollow TKG on Twitter & Facebook