UN: Afghan women entrepreneurs face wide range of obstacles

Women entrepreneurs in Afghanistan face a wide range of obstacles and high costs of doing business, said the United Nations Development Program in a new report.

Despite facing formidable challenges, women-owned and -led businesses in Afghanistan continue to demonstrate remarkable resilience, serving as vital pillars of economic stability and hope amidst adversity, the UNDP report highlighted.

The comprehensive report, titled “Listening to Women Entrepreneurs in Afghanistan. Their Struggle and Resilience,” published on April 17, found that 41% of 3,100 Afghan female entrepreneurs surveyed had to take on debt.

It added that just 5% of them had been able to gain credit through a bank or micro-finance institution, instead mostly relying on lending from friends or family members.

The unfavorable situation has been attributed to deepened discrimination, coupled with a severely weakened financial system.

Respondents also reported restrictions hampered their operations, with over 70% saying they were unable to travel to a local market without a male guardian (mahram).

The UNDP notes that the employment rate for working age female members of households has halved to 6% over the past year.

The survey also reveals that 80% of women-led enterprises rely on their business revenues as their primary source of income.

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