Women's National Business Agenda - A road Map for Afghan Women's Economic Empowerment
The AWCCI would like to thank our partners in the public, private, and development sectors for supporting our work on the Women’s National Business Agenda. This initiative was made easier through collaboration with officials at the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, the Women’s Economic Empowerment Rural Development Program (operating under the Ministr y of Rural Rehabilitation & Development), the Ministry of Industr y & C ommerce, and the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, & Livestock. The exhaustive field work necessary to update our national database of women-owned businesses would not have been possible without funding provided by Harakat, Ghazanfar Bank, and a personal donation made by the First Lady, H.E. Rula Ghani. Besides acknowledging our financial supporters and partners, we must also express our gratitude to the 29 businesswomen who worked as volunteer focal points for AWCCI across Afghanistan. These businesswomen conducted consultations with other women business owners in their respective provinces, and this study is enriched by the insights that they gathered.
We must thank the 1,221 businesswomen from 32 Afghan provinces who shared their views with our focal points in focus group discussions and key informant inter views. We have made every effort possible to faithfully present their concerns and suggestions in this document. Finally, AWCCI is grateful to Salem Halali of Global Impact Management Consulting (GIMC) and David Fox of AMR Group for their dedication in drafting, editing, and formatting this comprehensive document.
AWCCI strategy to cope with COVID-19 and advocate the Afghan government and the international community for support to women-owned businesses
It is evident that this public health crisis has had an immediate and adjacent economic crisis. ¡ As of July 23, 2020, Afghanistan has more than 35,900 COVID-19 confirmed cases; about 1,200 have died ¡ Afghanistan, already struggling with a 54% below the poverty line crisis, combined with a strikingly high unemployment rate; is going through a historically difficult economic crisis period. ¡ Women-owned businesses are those impacted severely ¡ AWCCI was the first entity decided to conduct a survey on the challenges posed by “COVID19”, and its impact on women’s economic participation and the country’s trade situation.
Peace and women in business
Since 2002 as women regained their freedom they entered various spheres of public life as they did before 1995. Girls started attending schools and universities, women started going to work in the government and none government offices. More importantly a number of women very courageously invested and emerged as business owners. Not only created jobs for themselves but also for others.
2nd Business Leaders' Forum (BLF) Chambers and Private Sector Joint Resolution
The second Business Leaders Forum (BLF) entitled (Private Sector Response to COVID-19 Pandemic) was virtually held on Wednesday, 22nd of April, 2020 from 02:00 to 05:00 in the afternoon via video conference. This Forum was organized by the International Chamber of Commerce in Afghanistan (ICC Afghanistan) and all other National Chambers with the support of Afghanistan Investment Climate Facility Organization (HARAKAT). The Forum was attended by leaderships of ICC Afghanistan, Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Investment (ACCI), Afghanistan Chamber of Industries and Mines (ACIM), Afghanistan Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry
(AWCCI), A fghanistan Chamber of Shopkeepers and Craftsmen (ACSC), Afghanistan Chamber of Agriculture and livestock (ACALP), German-Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GACCI) and HARAKAT Organization In the Forum, Afghanistan business leaders discussed the agenda points and agreed on the followings in unison:
REECA Policy Paper
There are around 850 women-owned businesses in Afghanistan , half of which are in handicraft and traditional businesses but less than ten are selling in the regional or global markets on regular basis. The handicrafts include carpet, embroidery, woodcarving, jewelry making, cotton and silk shawls and leather products.
In the past 15 years the focus has been on producing more of these products and making sales through exhibitions within and outside the country. Whereas additional analysis is required to be undertaken on the quality, design, and access to more permanent buyers, sufficient knowledge of the rationale behind such exhibitions is already clear.
As part of the efforts towards women’s economic empowerment, the Afghan government formulated its National Priority Program (NPP) on Women’s Economic Empowerment that includes the principal component of increasingaccess to markets for women-owned enterprises as well as several subcomponents related to work on the quality
and branding of their products. This component is aimed at improving women’s access to quality inputs, designs, and markets, and facilitating export and income generation for women and families undertaking creative activities. In an effort to bring synergy and complementarity with national priorities, the Regional Economic Cooperation
Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA), under its new approach included the women’s economic empowerment component into its agenda, which is already contributing, inter alia, to the implementation of the Women’s Economic Empowerment NPP. RECCA recognizes that women across the wider region have much to contribute to the implementation of the
platform’s regional cooperation and investment projects, and they also stand to benefit from their success. It is, therefore, imperative that women across the entire region be engaged in the activities of RECCA including Investment Road Shows, Business Forums as well as the biennial Ministerial and Academic Forum meetings of the platform, and
other more targeted support activities to improve economic conditions for women to both benefit from and actively contribute to regional economic cooperation.
There are a number of primary areas where regional cooperation will have direct impact on women economic empowerment, and those include: sharing the knowledge on best practices; fostering links and building networks among women entrepreneurs in the wider region; creating value chains at the regional level; utilizing regional
chambers of commerce and industries and organizing joint-ventures, exhibitions and business forums, among others.