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Afghan entrepreneurs among the most inspiring women of 2021

The BBC annual list of the 100 influential and inspiring women from around the world was released with an unprecedented: half of this year’s list are women from Afghanistan. In 2021, the 100 Women project chose those who are “resetting” the world — that is, women doing their part to reinvent our society and our culture.

Due to the Taliban’s resurgence in August 2021, changing the lives of millions of Afghans, some women appear under pseudonyms and without photos for their safety. Girls have been banned from secondary education, the women’s ministry has been dissolved and in many cases, women were prevented from returning to work. “This year’s list recognizes the scope of their bravery and their achievements as they are forced to reset their lives”, says BBC release.

Among the Afghan businesswomen making the difference is Sara Wahedi, a tech entrepreneur, founder of technology start-up Ehtesab, whose first product is an app to deliver real-time security, power and traffic alerts to Kabul residents. The app has proved critical in providing information on the nature and extent of danger around them. In 2022, Sara hopes to launch an SMS alert function, allowing people in rural areas to access the service.

Najlla Habibyar is another entrepreneur on the list, who helps Afghan women set up weaving businesses and sell their goods abroad. And Zuhal Atmar is the founder of Afghanistan’s first waste-paper recycling factory, Gul-e-Mursal. It has created 100 jobs, 30% of which have gone to women, from the factory floor to marketing.

Other women on 2021 list to be inspired:

Natalia Pasternak Taschner, Brazilian scientist who has worked to combat misinformation during the pandemic;

Professor Heidi J Larson, head of Vaccine Confidence Project;

Fiamē Naomi Mata’afa, Samoa’s first female prime minister;

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, acclaimed Nigerean author and feminist icon;

Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner.

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Source: BBC 100 Women 2021