Zardozi works with women who come from rural, poor and uneducated families. They are unfamiliar with the world outside the windows of their mud houses. Wrong traditions and family restrictions have confined and cut their wings to thrive in their lives. They are unable to say no to all kinds of verbal and physical violence. The moment they have raised their voices, their tongues and ears are cut and their bodies are burned and buried.
Government alone is not capable of protecting women especially reaching out to those who live far away from urban areas. To fill the vacuum, Zardozi’s objective for many years has been to target these areas and boost women’s confidence and potential in there so that they can thoroughly find their own ways to approach and address a problem in their family and community.
For instance, when most of these women want to refer to government offices to have their problems solved, they are not pleasantly welcomed unless they are slightly educated, well spoken, appropriately dressed and most importantly confident. Therefore equipping them with the right skills and giving them that identity is our job and so far an achievement. Women have powerfully demonstrated their capabilities to solve their problems independently.
Recently in Jalalabad, the women who used to be nobody and insignificant part of their families and society had Jalalabad Governor, Shah Mahmood Miakhail to listen to them and to facilitate education, health care, electricity and other needs for their community. These women who also go by the name of Kadars brought together their community Malak or elders and discussed the community problems with Governor Miakhail.
The meeting was as a result of several days of phone calls, knocking doors and convincing both villagers and the Governor for switching their attention to women’s suffering and preventing it from escalating.
It was impressive and a moment of proud for the Governor when he saw Afghan women with little education but strong commitment to uplift themselves and advocate for their avowed rights to be free and independent.
In Herat and Kabul, the women’s representatives arranged meetings and signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with several private hospitals’ heads that will subsequently provide affordable health care to Zardozi women. This includes discount, and free of charge medical care in exceptional cases.
Zahra who is one of Zardozi’s clients suffered from years of untreated severe Kidney pain. Due to financial problems, Zahra could not afford a good treatment until the Kadars introduced her to one of the hospitals in Herat. The hospital agreed to treat her illness for free. Zahra said, “I am so grateful. My illness had made me less productive but now that I take the medicine I can focus on my work and life.”