Here’s something you wouldn’t have seen in Kabul a few years ago: a woman in a flowing chador selling (reportedly delicious) burgers out of a solar-powered rickshaw. That’s Maryam Mohammdi, a 30-year-old Afghan woman who’s worked her way into the male-dominated food industry. Reuters reported a quick look at Mohammdi at work, demonstrating how things have changed for Afghan women in just the past few years. It’s only a sliver of the Afghan woman experience, but a hopeful and interesting one nonetheless.
Mohammdi’s boss, Farhad Wajdi, started a mobile restaurant business in 2018 at age 27. He told Reuters that he saw how women had been long excluded from socioeconomic opportunities, and saw that as untapped economic potential. “I see Afghan women as a big human resource,” says Wajdi. Now, he employs 50 women running 25 food carts in Kabul and the surrounding area. Okay, Farhad, we see you.
Women selling burgers, or riding rickshaws, or being out of the house by themselves weren’t just looked down upon in the past—they were breaking the law. Under Taliban rule (1996-2001), women were banned from work, school, or leaving the house without a male relative. Societal treatment of women didn’t flip overnight, though. When Mohammdi first started working, she says, “People were making fun of me and laughing, saying, ‘look at her, she is working on the street.’” After a couple years of selling burgers, though, some men even cheer her on. It just goes to show the unparalleled power of a delicious burger.