Kashmir: Violence-weary Muslim Women Join Business In Silent Awakening

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Published: February 20, 2014

Updated: February 20, 2014

culture

Shayan Nabi

SRINAGAR: Old Taboos are breaking in the conservative Muslim-majority Kashmir valley as government figures reveal that over 10,000 registered business units are run by women.

The number of women entrepreneurs epitomize the new face of strife-weary Kashmiri women who are eager to experiment with some of the social changes sweeping the subcontinent while maintaining their Islamic identity and values, experts say.

“The state of Jammu and Kashmir has a total of 10,700 registered female entrepreneurs and around 97 percent of them are from Kashmir region,” government records say.

Of the 10,355 women entrepreneurs from Kashmir, Srinagar has a major share with 4293; 2219 for Budgam; 1306 for Pulwama; 918 for Ganderbal; 748 for Kulgam; 320 for Kupwara; 285 for Shopian; 124 for Anantnag; 75 for Bandipora and 67 for Baramulla.

The state of Jammu and Kashmir has a total of 10,700 registered female entrepreneurs and around 97 percent of them are from Kashmir region.

“Kashmir is changing. Old taboos are breaking as parents pursue new dreams for their daughters,” said 65-year-old Haleema Bano whose daughter 35-year-old daughter Hina Bhat runs a beauty parlor.

Few decades ago a mere poster on a mosque wall, asking women to wear head-to-toe veils, would be enough to send them scurrying back home in a region where cinemas showing Bollywood romances are hard to find and beauty parlors scorned upon.

Most of the women entrepreneurs in Kashmir have set up business units of handloom weaving, Pashmina spinning, Kani shawl weaving and readymade garments.

In Kashmir two decades of violence, involving militants and government forces, has left nothing untouched and brought misery to women who have lost their children and men.

“But below the surface, a silent awakening is taking place,” Haleema, a former teacher added.

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