Farhana Rahman


This paper analyzes Afghan businesswomen’s experiences and their attempts at engaging in the economic sector, and the manner in which they have navigated political, social, and cultural impediments to build and sustain economic enterprises, to reclaim agency in the post-Taliban era. Through in-depth interviews with three Afghan businesswomen in conjunction with observations of their daily lives, this discussion explores how Afghan businesswomen negotiate between international discourses on women’s employment and work, and hyper-conservative values of Afghan society that prevent women from accessing economic opportunities. The businesswomen highlighted in this paper legitimize their place in economic participation and employment, in many ways, by employing Islamic discourses through the Qur’an and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad.

Author Biography

Farhana Rahman is a Cambridge International Trust Scholar and PhD candidate in Gender Studies at the University of Cambridge. She is also a consultant for various UN Women, UNDP, and USAID projects in South and Southeast Asia, providing technical expertise on gender equality, social policy, and human rights. In 2015, Farhana helped to establish the first academic program in gender studies in Afghanistan, based at the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul, where she was also an instructor. Her research interests include gender, forced migration, and lived experiences in Muslim societies.