New sensation

In central Afghanistan, women farmers are wielding the power and reaping the benefits

Afghan women harvest potatoes. (Photo by Paula Bronstein /Getty Images)

The Shibar Valley in Bamian Province in central Afghanistan is a region that’s historically been prone to famine. But the emergence of women farmers taking the lead in bringing the country’s spartan farming industry into a more sophisticated state over the last few years — both in terms of the crops being grown and how farmers are doing business. “In the old days, only potatoes and wheat were grown here,” Zainab Husseini, a part-time high school biology teacher and the full-time farming union leader in the village of Iraq-ulya, told The New York Times. “Now we introduced cabbage, cauliflower, tomatoes, beans and other vegetables.” Indeed, the more diversified crops are critical not only to staving off famine for those who live in the area, but a crucial commodity for an emerging economy that’s trying to wean itself off of financial aid from foreign countries. And the women are enhancing business practices for farmers by organizing unions that account for a more dependable food supply chain.

In addition to the burgeoning farming industry women are creating in Bamian, they’re also reaping the fruits of an improved social status in what has always been a male-dominated society. No longer are the women referred to as someone else’s mother. Instead their names are preceded “union leader” or “deputy union leader” when they are introduced. Still, for all of the gains they’ve made recently the region is still steeped in poverty — a hard fact borne out in the income levels the improved crops are generating for farmers.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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