Gazan women designers set their sights abroad

Six Gazan sisters design traditional Palestinian embroidery with the aim to breaking into the foreign market (Reuters)

Six Palestinian sisters from the Gaza Strip are beating high unemployment, achieving self-empowerment, through embroidering Palestinian traditional dress and handicrafts - from home.

Turning their talent into a profitable trade, the six sisters Nardeen, Budor, Basma, Nour, Hiba and Aya opened up an online business in 2006 and called it “The Six Flowers”, in a bid to revive the Palestinian embroidery by introducing it to countries abroad.

One of the “Six Flowers”, Nardeen Sha’asha, is more of an embroidery expert.

The 24-year-old former art student saw her potential in embroidery back in the school days.

“When we were at school we used to learn embroidery, during the summer vacation, which used to last for three months, we used to make embroidery and give our work as gifts to people who come from abroad. After I finished university, I tried to find a job but I couldn’t, so I started doing embroidery work again, and this is how the idea of ‘‘Six Flowers’’ came about,” said Sha’asha.

The Gaza Strip is sealed off by an Israeli blockade against the ruling Hamas, which seized control of the strip in 2008 and refuses to recognize Israel.

The isolation has made the Gaza economy almost entirely dependent on foreign aid with unemployment and poverty levels rising.

Gaza unemployment is estimated by the United Nations to be at more than 40 percent, and local economists put the figure at around 60 percent.

Officials estimate unemployment amongst women in Gaza to be at 95 percent.

In such conditions, women say they cannot find work as opportunities are increasingly limited.

The ‘‘Six Flowers’’ artwork include patterned cushion covers, table cloths, purses, trays, slippers, patterned baby booties, blankets, and picture frames. The works are displayed at home and posted on the internet where potential buyers can make their purchase.

“We created a Facebook page called ‘‘The 6 Flowers’’ through which we communicate with people and show our production work. Through this page, we also market our work and people see our handicrafts. Also if people want help about embroidery, we help them through the page,” said the 23-year-old Budor Sha’asha.

Last Update: Sunday, 31 March 2013 KSA 15:47 - GMT 12:47