Afghanistan’s centuries old carpet industry represents one of the country’s largest and most important exports, providing employment to over one million Afghans. Many of these workers and artisans are based in rural areas where alternative sources of income are limited and conditions can be harsh.
STEP works to improve the lives and livelihoods of weavers and workers by promoting and requiring adherence to its Fair Trade Standard (from workplace safety to the prohibition of child labour to minimum wage requirements) — whether in home-based production or in centralised workshops. In addition, STEP’s Weaver Empowerment program offers weavers and workers the opportunity to learn about topics including health and hygiene; carpet industry knowledge; and, financial literacy. These capacity-building workshops are designed to improve individuals’ quality of work/life and promote a sustainable carpet industry. Another facet of STEP’s work in Afghanistan is providing carpet weavers and their families access to basic health care through regular visits from a medical doctor.
Label STEP is confident that the international market demand for Afghan carpets will continue and that its fair trade practices and capacity-building programs will allow Afghan weavers and workers to benefit from this development. Learn more about STEP’s commitment to Afghan weavers and workers, as well as its call to action during this particularly challenging time in their country’s history.