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Afghani women weave their lives, thanks to UAE

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    Posted: 22-May-2017 at 9:33pm
Afghani women weave their lives, thanks to UAE

Dubai Festival City will be displaying their work alongside artistic works by renowned Emirati artists.

A UAE initiative is helping empowerment of Afghan women and war widows by giving them employment opportunities in their country.

Under the Fatima bint Mohamed bin Zayed Initiative (FBMI), 4,000 Afghan women are employed to weave carpets in their villages of Afghanistan. Some of the carpets woven by these women were gifted to former US president Barack Obama, the Pope and other world leaders.

Dubai Festival City will be displaying their work alongside artistic works by renowned Emirati artists who want to support the FBMI, under the initiative 'Artists for Change' from May 21 to June 16.

"The initiative offers sustainable employment opportunities. So, there are no handouts or charities. They get employment and alongside they get social services, such as healthcare for the families and education for the children," Farshied Jabarkhyl, FBMI regional manager, told Khaleej Times.

"The aim of the foundation is to empower women and help children, so one of its departments is the women's affairs department that looks into counselling for women who have been victims of domestic violence, abuse and any other issues they have - whether it's psychological or physical."

Jabarkhyl said that handmade carpets are one of the largest exports in Afghanistan and is among the most income generating. He said weaving carpets is the heritage in Afghanistan and most women already possess the skills, however, never received an employment opportunity until now.

He said many women cannot leave their homes due to the conservative society. So FBMI brings the resources to their homes to continue their employment with the programme.

A 2016 Human Rights Report on Afghanistan by the US State Department showed that only seven per cent of the country's workforce are women and that they continue to face gender discrimination.

Jabarkhyl pointed out that a growing number of Emirati artists are showing interest in the initiative and donating their art for the cause.

This year, four Emirati artists were invited to be a part of the initiative - Sheikha Wafa Hasher Al Maktoum, Sheikha Mariam Khalifa Al Nahyan, Shamsa Al Abbar and Mohammed Harib.

Their artworks were woven into the hand-knotted carpets by the FBMI female weavers.

"We have a lot of Emirati applications coming in from people who want to help empower Afghan women and bridge the gap between the privileged and the underprivileged platforms. The work we have are from renowned artists, who are VIPs and from royal families. They have donated their artworks," he said.

The FBMI is also indirectly impacting 25,000 other Afghans as employment opportunities are provided from collecting the wool all the way to exporting it.

All proceeds of the FBMI carpet sales go to the weavers in the form of salary, access to health and compulsory education for their children.

What, where and when

Exhibition of carpets and artworks of Emirati artists Sheikha Wafa Hasher Al Maktoum, Sheikha Mariam Khalifa Al Nahyan, Shamsa Al Abbar and Mohammed Harib under Artists for Change initiative



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