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AfghanMark Brands Carpets Hand-Woven by Afghan Women

A major humanitarian, educational and business development breakthrough was made by the Afghan Women’s Business Federation (AWBF) with the creation of  AfghanMark. This brand label will be carried on future exported carpets made by Afghan women who are employed by the women-owned or women-managed carpet-making businesses that are members of AWBF.

The AWBF created AfghanMark to produce brand name recognition for carpets made by Afghan women. This new brand aims to increase income for women weavers who earn their living working with traditional looms, create a monitoring system to certify working conditions and increase educational opportunities and social responsibility.

“We feel this is a win-win situation for everyone,” said business federation spokeswoman Halima Kazem at a press conference. “Through their purchase options, American consumers have the opportunity to improve the lives of Afghan women.”

AWBF was established after the fall of the Taliban in late 2001. The federation, funded by USAID, seeks to help women become more involved in Afghan economy. The carpet industry, which produces Afghanistan’s best-known export, is the current focus of the federation. “It’s growing,” Kazem said after a press conference at the Rubin Museum of Art. “We hope every carpet company joins us.”

As a rule, AfghanMark requires manufacturers to pay their weavers 50 percent more than the current wage, or about $1.50 a day and to give each weaver a 10 percent commission on carpet sales.   To qualify for certification, all companies must agree to use vertical looms instead of horizontal floor looms because the latter causes increased back and eye strain. In addition, these companies are subject to random inspections in order to protect Afghan weavers from maltreatment.

Every carpet is numbered and contains a brief story of the women who wove the carpet, which allows consumers to know that the women are receiving fair wages under good working conditions, devoid of illegal child labor, and access to health care and education.

AfghanMark represents the latest development in positive strides made by Afghan women in a post-Taliban era.       
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