Inspiring Read: The Dressmaker of Khair Khana

Posted on November 14, 2013 by Jenna Valdespino | 1 Comment

"Necessity was turning these women into entrepreneurs. With no jobs available and no employers willing to hire them, they were making their own way, creating businesses that would help them feed their children."
Today we're taking a look at "The Dressmaker of Khair Khana" by journalist Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, who traveled to Afghanistan to uncover the stories of the female entrepreneurs who worked to provide for their families and communities during the time of war and the Taliban.
There she met Kamila Sidiqi, who fearlessly started a dressmaking business for dozens of women when they were unable to leave the house without the threat of danger.
(Photo by Mercy Corps)
The book follows Kamila has she learns to make dresses to discreetly sell to shops at the local markets and keep her family together. She and her four sisters all sew and work together to produce the dresses for the orders they receive. It's dangerous work, and only gets riskier as swarms of women in the community come by asking for any way to help out and provide for their own families.
(Photo by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon)
After the fall of the Taliban, Kamila continued her efforts. She set up women's centers in Kabul to mentor women and teach marketable skills in microfinance, literacy, and business. For a community that was left broken, these installments made a huge difference. Soon enough, Kamila was invited by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Washington, D.C. to speak in front of members of Congress, business owners, and diplomats about her work. From making dresses in her home on her own to training and mentoring more than 900 people in her country, Kamila has been able to make a direct impact.
(Photo by US Global Leadership Campaign)
“Money is power for women,” Kamila said. “If women have their own income to bring to the family, they can contribute and make decisions. Their brothers, their husbands, and their entire families will have respect for them. I’ve seen this again and again. It’s so important in Afghanistan because women have always had to ask for money from men. If we can give them some training, and an ability to earn a good salary, then we can change their lives and help their families.”


We love how Kamila helped women in Afghanistan learn skills they could use to become artisans just like the ones we work with to bring you Lydali's global products!

Have you read any other inspiring reads lately? Let us know in the comments!

Posted in afghanistan, books, entrepreneurship, gayle tzemach lemmon, khair khana

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1 Response


February 13, 2014

I read this book last year. I read it in a day. Loved it.

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