Feature: A woman's saga on running restaurant in patriarchal Afghanistan

Source: Xinhua| 2020-01-11 20:46:33|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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by Abdul Haleem

PUL-E-KHUMRI, Afghanistan, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- "It is the need of the hour to have a restaurant here in Pul-e-Khumri city to host women and their families in a restaurant established and managed by women," whispered 30-year-old Gaity Anwari, the owner of the restaurant.

The beleaguered Pul-e-Khumri city is the capital of the restive Baghlan province where armed insurgents affiliated with the extremist groups are operational in areas surrounding the provincial capital city.

Believing in the famous proverb that "no pain, no gain", the ambitious Anwari murmured, "Sitting idle under the excuse of continued insecurity incidents and increasing militancy can serve no one." She has dared the difficulties to open a restaurant with limited resources a couple of years ago.

"I worked alone in the beginning but now 25 people including five men are working in the restaurant and all receive a reasonable income," said the determined lady with pride.

Pul-e-Khumi city, 160 km north of Kabul, has witnessed militants' offensives over the past couple of years and the recent attack was in September, 2019, when many residents left their houses for safer places.

"Daring the difficulties has enabled me to provide job opportunities for some 30 people and serve food for more than 150 guests daily," Gaity Anwari said.

She noted that her restaurant, in addition to providing traditional dishes, also serves Western-style pizza and berger.

In the patriarchal Afghanistan where militancy is rampant, opening a restaurant by a woman is a risky job, Anwari muttered. However, she said, "Strong resolve makes impossible mission possible".

Recalling her maiden experiences in opening the restaurant, she said her neighbors and people living around didn't believe that a woman could own a restaurant in the conservative society where the men don't allow their female relatives to go out of home except accompanied by a male member of the family.

"No doubt, it was unbelievable for many in my area that a woman could open a restaurant, doubtlessly, it was a risky job, but gradually I have overcome all the challenges and have stood on feet to support my family," Anwari said with joy.

"Running a restaurant that enables women to go with their family would break up the old-fashioned traditions and gradually promote the culture of tolerance in society," the striving lady believes.

In patriarchal Afghanistan where radical militant groups are active and people, mostly in the countryside deeply believe in old-fashioned traditions and don't allow women to work outside home, opening a restaurant is a surprising job for many in the country.

Known as Banu Restaurant (Lady Restaurant) and frequented mostly by married couples, is among a handful women-run restaurants that have been opened in Afghanistan's major cities including Kabul over the past few years.

"I often visit Banu Restaurant along with my husband and children to have lunch and enjoy being together here at lunch time," said a guest Maryam Masush.

"Everything is possible and you can overcome all the challenges if you have firm resolve to succeed in your life," Anwari said.