Saleha and her vegetables

Distress teaches woman to manage her business


Afghan women have traditionally been inferior to men in status and often live marginalized in society as wife and mother. For some, they have succeeded in both providing for the family, gaining financial independence and being respected in the local community.

As a young man, Saleha dreamed of becoming a financially independent woman, respected in her community and valued by her family - knowing that women in Afghanistan are traditionally inferior to men and marginalized as gender.

Saleha, who is now 49 years old, became a mother at a young age and had to learn to balance her status early - on the one hand wife and mother in charge of the family and on the other a woman who could realize her dreams.

A tragedy kick-started the dream 

Seven children later, Saleha, now a 36-year-old woman, had to support the entire family when her husband, who was the head of a local development council, became seriously wounded during the conflicts in the country.

The tragedy for the family was further aggravated as the couple's eldest son, a soldier, was wounded in the fight against the Taliban. The incidents set Saleha facing the choice between remaining the mother and wife that society traditionally expected of her. Or to realize her dream of becoming a financially independent woman. She chose both.

Healthy nutrition through own vegetable garden

Saleha met Mission East through a project in 2018 where she was selected to join a self-help group: “The first thing I learned through Mission East was to sow seeds in my own vegetable garden, and harvest vegetables that meet my family's nutritional needs. It was hard work that rewarded me when I produced more than 200 kg of tomatoes, 300 kg of squash, 80 kg of cucumber and 300 kg of onions in my small vegetable garden. It was much more than we could eat in my family. Therefore, I learned how to process the vegetables so that they could stay longer. Out of the tomatoes I made 120 kg of tomato puree, I swapped my squash for fruit, and prepared it for apple jam and pickles, ”explains Saleha.

Happy to be selfsufficient

Saleha, as one of the big female producers in the self-help group, was selected for a larger group of food producers who also collect eggs and vegetables and processed foods that are sold on the market. With a cash earnings from her own products and the production group's products from which she receives a percentage, she gets cash for daily living.

In addition, she has taken out a loan in one of the self-help groups' loan boxes, and has used the money for medical treatment of her son and husband. She has also bought ten chickens, and plans to buy a cow so that the family can get milk and yogurt for their own consumption and for sale in the market.

“Now I earn DKK 1000-1500 per person. month. This means that I can support my family while sharing the experiences and sharing them through the self-help group so that other women can do the same. My dream that as a woman in Afghanistan you can go from being an unpaid housewife and carer, to earning a living and providing for the family is realized after I got the right tools. It gives an inner strength and sense of happiness and satisfaction to be self-sufficient. "