Afghan women break stereotypes

Clad in western wear, many of them were seen chatting freely with visitors on the first day of IITF

It's a refreshing sight. Breaking stereotypes here at India International Trade Fair (IITF) 2011, a group of Afghan woman were seen chatting happily with visitors. Clad in western apparel, they wore their hair open letting it fall over their shoulders.

Good business: Stalls of Afghanistan at the 31st India International
Trade Fai

Three women entrepreneurs from Afghanistan are participating in the fair this year. Zohra Husaini who is the director of a handicraft company, started her business in 1991. She began by sewing clothes and selling them. In 2004 she registered her business with Afghan Business Council and received training in designing clothes and jewellery. About 60 women employees now work with her.

A participant. Pics/Imtiyaz Khan

Change is here
"The world is changing day-by-day. Our country is also becoming developed. Nowadays, women are always one step ahead. India is a great market for us, and also a great opportunity to showcase our products," said Zohra.
Another entrepreneur, Ayesha, who has come with her 18-year-old daughter Neelab, said "We are expecting a lot from the Indian market.
We have our business even in Afghanistan, but coming to India has always been a challenge. I was a part of IITF last year too. This year my daughter wanted to come with me for the experience and till now, she is enjoying it."

"It's a wonderful experience here in India. This is the first time I am participating in the fair, and I am super excited for it. But, I am missing my family members too. I am here with one of my cousins," said Aisha Siddiqi, company representative, Afghanistan Handicraft Centre.

Trade winds
Afghanistan yesterday said its trade with India would get a boost following commitment at the recent SAARC summit that barriers among the south Asian countries should be removed. "We hope bilateral trade with India will increase after the SAARC conference, as they have decided that barriers between SAARC countries should be eliminated to increase trade," said Afghanistan's Ambassador to India Nangyalai Tarzi. Tarzi said the two countries have a long history of trade relations and economic assistance by India is significant. At USD 2 billion, India is the sixth largest donor to Afghanistan and the second largest in Asia. The eight-nation SAARC Summit which ended on Sunday, 13th November had reached a series of agreements on regional cooperation and decided to consider reducing non-tariff barriers and duties to promote freer trade.

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