Asia Pacific

The Future in Afghanistan: It All Depends on Them

Despite facing formidable challenges, women-owned and run businesses in Afghanistan continue to demonstrate remarkable resilience, serving as vital pillars of economic stability and hope amidst adversity, a new UN report has found.

Released by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) on Wednesday, Listening to Women Entrepreneurs in Afghanistan, Their Struggle and Resilience, analyzes data collected over the last three years, providing one of the most detailed views into the changing circumstances of women entrepreneurs in the country.

“Women entrepreneurs have demonstrated incredible grit, boldness, and resourcefulness under the most dire of conditions,” said Kanni Wignaraja, UNDP’s Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific.

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Deepened discrimination

The research revealed that Afghanistan’s women entrepreneurs face a range of hurdles and high costs while doing business.  

Deepened discrimination and operational constraints, coupled with a severely weakened financial system, forced 41 per cent of the over 3,000 women surveyed into debt.  

Almost three quarters of respondents also reported severe movement restrictions, such as not being able to travel even to local markets without a mahram (a male chaperone).

Only five per cent reported having received loans via banks or microfinance institutions.  

Finding ways to overcome challenges

According to UNDP, In Afghanistan, where a total 15.8 million people are food insecure and the employment rate for working age female members has halved to six per cent since last year, women are finding ways to tackle the challenges.  

Entrepreneurship has surfaced as a lifeline for women and their families, it said, noting that that 80 per cent of women-led enterprises rely on their business revenues as their primary source of income.  

Women-run businesses also create much-needed job opportunities for other women.

UNDP alongside partners supported 75,000 micro and small businesses, which together have created employment opportunities for more than 900,000 individuals who in turn provide support to their families.  

Story of fortitude and hope

“Women have long been the driving force behind the welfare of households in Afghanistan and play a crucial role in sustaining local economies,” said Stephen Rodriques, UNDP Resident Representative in Afghanistan.  

He added that the agency continues to amplify their voices, highlight the benefit of investing in women.  

“Their courage and resilience in overcoming the odds tell a compelling story of fortitude and hope. They need international support, and this report provides additional insights on how we can support them. The future of Afghanistan depends on them,” he emphasized.



  1. In my opinion, it is truly inspiring to see the resilience of women entrepreneurs in Afghanistan despite the adversities they face. Their determination and resourcefulness are crucial for the economic stability and hope in the country.

  2. Women entrepreneurs in Afghanistan have shown incredible resilience despite facing numerous challenges. It’s inspiring to see how they continue to be pillars of economic stability in such difficult circumstances.

  3. Do you think the international community is doing enough to support and empower women entrepreneurs in Afghanistan, considering the challenges they are facing?

    1. As a journalist covering this topic, I believe the international community must do more to support and empower women entrepreneurs in Afghanistan. Their resilience and determination deserve tangible support and resources to thrive in challenging circumstances.

  4. As a female entrepreneur myself, it’s both inspiring and disheartening to read about the challenges women in Afghanistan face. Their resilience is truly commendable, yet the barriers they encounter highlight the urgent need for tangible support and change in societal norms. The future of Afghanistan truly depends on empowering its women.

  5. As a female entrepreneur myself, I am inspired by the unwavering resilience of women entrepreneurs in Afghanistan despite the challenging conditions they face. It’s crucial to continue supporting and empowering them to drive economic stability and progress in the country.

  6. Women entrepreneurs in Afghanistan are truly inspirational, facing immense challenges yet showing remarkable resilience. It’s crucial to support them in overcoming obstacles and thriving in their businesses. The UN report highlights their indomitable spirit and determination.

  7. As an entrepreneur myself, I find it truly inspiring to see the resilience and determination of women business owners in Afghanistan. They face immense challenges, yet they continue to push forward with unwavering strength. It’s crucial that we support and empower them in any way we can to help them thrive in their businesses and contribute to their country’s economic stability.

  8. Women entrepreneurs in Afghanistan have shown incredible resilience in overcoming obstacles and building businesses in challenging conditions. It’s inspiring to see their determination and resourcefulness shining through despite facing deep discrimination and financial hardships. Let’s continue to support and empower these courageous women who are essential for the country’s economic stability and future progress.

  9. Women entrepreneurs in Afghanistan have shown incredible grit, boldness, and resourcefulness despite the deepened discrimination and challenges they face. It is inspiring to see them serving as pillars of economic stability and hope in such adversity.

  10. Women entrepreneurs in Afghanistan are truly inspiring. It is heartbreaking to see the challenges they face, yet they continue to show immense courage and determination. Their resilience is a beacon of hope in the midst of adversity.

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