KCEC: EXHIBITS DEMONSTRATES WOMEN'S ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT
On June 10, 2019, Kabul Carpet Export Center (KCEC) participated in a one-day Summer Bazaar at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul to demonstrate how Afghan women have strengthened their economic position through carpet making. KCEC exhibited 3,212 square feet of hand-knotted carpets in a variety of styles and qualities produced by five prominent Afghan carpet manufacturing groups.
Visitors to the Summer Bazaar praised the designs and quality of the carpets and bought several. They mentioned that they rarely see the kind of top-end made-for-export carpets on display in the KCEC booth and invited the KCEC carpet manufacturers to take part in future Embassy events. Staff from the U.S. Embassy and USAID, including the USAID Afghanistan Chief of Mission and other senior officials, were among the attendees.
KCEC explained to visitors how it helps Afghan carpet makers keep a larger share of their earnings by providing a carpet export facility in Kabul. Previously, carpet makers had to export through other countries where they not only were often forced to sell their carpets at low prices but also received no part of the high margins the exporters added. By keeping the Afghan carpet industry value chain entirely within Afghanistan, KCEC is assisting Afghan women increase their economic strength and use it to help build a sustainable peace.
A high point of the Summer Bazaar was the appearance of Sharbat Gula, who, at age 10 in 1985, literally became the face of Afghanistan when her haunting green eyes first appeared in a photo on the cover of National Geographic. Known around the world ever since as “The Afghan Girl,” , a carpet weaver herself as well as a long-time refugee, Sharbat Gula stated, “I deeply appreciate that KCEC aims to create jobs for women weavers and IDPs.” She sees carpet-making as a valuable storytelling platform for Afghan women
Zalmay Khalilzad, the United States Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation and Peace also attended and met with the KCEC carpet manufacturers. He commended them for their work spoke about the value of carpet-weaving in bringing economic opportunities to Afghans.