UNODC considers Women Economic Empowerment as an integral part of its Alternative Development Programme in Afghanistan. In the context an exhibition was organized on 27-29 July 2019 at the UN Compound in Kabul, jointly with the Afghanistan Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AWCCI). The aim was to promote women entrepreneurs and raise awareness about alternative development programme. Exhibition had a wide range of handicrafts, carpets, jewellery, saffron, organic hand-made soaps, beauty products, fresh and dried fruits, and dairy products supported by AWCCI and UNODC.  Thirty women entrepreneurs across 15 provinces participated in the exhibition to display and sell their wares. The exhibition provided an opportunity to interact with the customers directly, understand the market needs, and the price points of their products.

The event was an effort to provide income generating opportunities to women and reduce reliance and involvement in illicit crop cultivation and related activities. Addressing the opiate problem in Afghanistan remains a shared responsibility concludes the 2018 Afghanistan Opium Survey of UNODC. Among all the actors sharing this responsibility, women have a unique role of shaping the future of their children for the better or worse through their stand vis-à-vis illicit crop cultivation. UNODC’s Afghanistan Opium Survey 2018: Challenges to sustainable development, peace and security revealed that women were aware of the negative impacts of cultivating and consuming opium, including the risk of developing addiction, and were concerned that the next generation could become addicts.

At the side-lines of the event was also a photo exhibition displaying UNODC activities at the field and paintings of two women artists. The event co-organized by UNODC and AWCCI raised awareness about alternative development and served as a platform to explore and discuss ways to integrate counter-narcotics action into AWCCI’s and other UN agencies’ activities through initiatives such as, but not limited to, promotion and support to alternative crop cultivation in poppy producing areas, employment of women recovering from drug addiction, skills and capacity development of women for income generation, self-employment and entrepreneurship.