Afghanistan’s carpet industry represents one of the country’s most important economic sectors, providing employment to over one million Afghans, most of them women in rural areas. Today, Afghans are facing a triple crisis with an uncertain future after decades of armed conflict, a natural disaster in the form of a severe drought and an uncontained Covid-19 pandemic.
STEP remains fully committed to support the Afghan weavers and workers and the country’s handmade rug industry – all while ensuring the safety of STEP staff working on the ground for positive change.
Supporting Weavers in Challenging Conditions
According to Managing Director Reto Aschwanden, “We intend to continue our principal effort in Afghanistan, as we have for the past ten years: promoting fair trade principles and supporting the health and safety of the country’s weavers and artisans”. This support is provided through targeted efforts designed in response to the main challenges Afghanistan’s carpet sector faces, including: low wages; poor working conditions; and a lack of access to social security services such as health care for rural weavers. Thus STEP works to establish and protect sustainable, fair trade jobs, provide basic health services and deliver capacity-building workshops. Beyond these permanent activities, Label STEP has provided emergency relief packages to more than 10,000 weavers and family members affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Call For Support and Solidarity
Many Afghan rug weavers belong to the economically and socially most disadvantaged communities in the country. These women need our support now. We call on all parties involved, both domestic and international, to protect the weaving and other artisanal sectors. A joint effort is urgently needed to not only support Afghanistan’s celebrated and unique carpet artisanry, but to sustain the livelihood of millions of people.
If you want to support Label STEP’s work for the wellbeing of weavers and workers in the handmade carpet industry, please consider donating through our website here. If you mention “Afghanistan” in the remark field we’ll earmark your donation exclusively for our Afghanistan projects.
A humanitarian crisis is unfolding across Afghanistan. One third of the population needs food assistance.United Nations World Food Program (WFP), 28 August 2021
This is a child protection crisis in a country that is already one of the worst places on earth to be a child.Hervé Ludovic De Lys, UNICEF Afghanistan Representative, 30 August 2021
Afghanistan’s conflict is taking the heaviest toll on displaced women and children.The UN Refugee Agency UNHCR, 13 August 2021