Arzu Studio Hope Weaves New Paths For Peace And Prosperity In Afghanistan

Nov 11, 2011 3:00 PM ET

Alice Korngold's Blog

"The military has learned that when you seed an economy, people will put down their guns," says Connie Duckworth. "That’s why the Marines asked me to don 30 pounds of body armor to meet with them in Helmand Province in Afghanistan," where she had established Arzu Studio Hope, an artisanal rug manufacturer that employs 1,000 women, who in turn support 4,000 family members in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is officially the worst place in the world for women, according to a 2011 study by Thompson Reuters Trust Law. That was quite apparent to Duckworth during her first visit to Afghanistan in 2003, when she was invited by the U.S. State Department to participate in the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council, a bipartisan commission formed to ensure Afghan women a voice in post-Taliban Afghanistan. As a partner and managing director at Goldman Sachs, Duckworth had always held a strong point of view and mentored women from all walks of life, with the idea that “she who writes the checks controls the agenda.” Having recently retired from Goldman Sachs, Duckworth determined to use her business experience to do something to change conditions for women in Afghanistan.

Soon after her State Department visit, Duckworth established Arzu Studio Hope, choosing rug-making since this was considered an acceptable job for women in Afghanistan.

See continuation on Fast Company here.

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