August 6, 2011 12:09 am

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon highlights the role women play in rebuilding Afghanistan

In this portrait of an Afghan dressmaker, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, highlights the role women play in building their country.

The story begins in 1996, the year the Taliban take over Kabul. Teenager Kamila Sidiqi is forced to give up her teaching position and is confined to her home with four restless sisters. Faced with the task of supporting her family, Kamila starts a dressmaking business from her living room that eventually creates jobs for 100 neighbourhood women.

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Lemmon has written much about businesswomen who emerge in the aftermath of war. Here, she turns our attention to an extraordinary group of self-starters, whose stories are too often overshadowed by reports of corruption and violence. As troops prepare to pull out of Afghanistan and President Hamid Karzai begins peace talks with the Taliban, many fear the insurgents will undo the hard-won progress made by women such as Kamila.

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, John Murray, RRP£12.99, 257 pages

 

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