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An ordinary day in the life of a woman under the Taliban 7

The lives of many women have been wrecked during the two-and-a-half years of Taliban rule. Our journalists asked eight women to recount their activities on a typical day living under Taliban gender apartheid in Afghanistan.  

Roqia* 

February 7, 2024 

9:35 a.m. 

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The smell of wood makes me feel good. I use my wood carvings to show that I have not given up. No matter how high the walls are built or the lock on the gates, hope will still flourish inside me. I show this through my art.  

I am deprived of education, but I know a craft that I can do behind closed doors. I want to show what is inside me. I don’t like silence and, for this reason, my inner voice flows in the sound that comes from my fingers. Wood carving is laborious and the wood dust is a bit annoying as it always gives me a runny nose. But this is the only way I can live. Today, I am making a tray, a customer has ordered from outside Afghanistan.  

11:25 p.m. 

I could not continue my studies after graduating from high school, because girls were not allowed to participate in the university entrance examination. I wanted to study economics. Now, I am happy that I have at least learned a craft.  

In grade 11, I learned about a program in which female teachers were teaching crafts to female students. I thought this was a good opportunity for me as I was looking for a way to both work and study. I used to go to their workshop for four hours a day and learned wood carving. We had wood, rulers, pencils, special paper, and a box with carving tools. I started by making fruit baskets, but little by little, as my skills developed, I began to learn more complex designs. Today, I feel better that I am working in my own workshop. At the same time, I teach the craft to another girl. 

3:05 p.m. 

I am packing up my woodworking tools and supplies. My workshop is in the basement of my house because I can’t have a workshop in the open. Usually, my brother delivers customers’ orders. We used to take our products to the women’s market in Kandahar city where a fruit basket sold for 800 afghani. Most of our products were exported outside of Afghanistan. We had many customers and good income.  

Even though Kandahar women’s market was only women, who adhered to hijab, it was still shut down. When it was closed a year ago, our sales plummeted. Few of our customers knew the address of my workshop. For a while, we continued our work with four women craftswomen, but the Taliban ordered the closure of our workshop and we had to stop.  

After the closure of the workshop, I broke down and suffered for several days. But soon I got up again and started all over again at home. 

5:05 p.m. 

I have a foreign female client who calls me from London and tries to help me with my conversational English. Last year, I studied English and computers in an educational centre. Now, when I am done with wood carving, I have to do housework and can’t practice my English at home. It is an uphill battle. I just hope that this darkness will be removed from my land and the withered faces of the girls will be bright again. 

*Roqia is a self-employed 21-year-old woman. She was forced to abandon her education after the Taliban came to power. 

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