Palestine: Gender equality starts at home

Salsa’s Olivewood workshop was constructed by a father of six sons who taught them the craft of olive wood carving, in 1920. For the family, it became the main source of income. Philip, one of the six sons, passed on the family craft to his own sons Rafat and Bishara.

Rima, Philip’s wife, decided to work with them against their will. Philip initially denied her request to join the workshop because he believed that it is not a woman’s place. Rima did not listen to her husband. She knew that she could make a lot to help improve the family’s income. She is also talented. She had always dreamt of transforming objects into beautiful pieces. Now Rima, her son Bishara and his wife Shurouq (her name means sunrise) converted a very small room in their house into 3 workshops.

"It is not just the woman’s magic touch on the product,” said Bishara. “When they are gluing the pieces women are able to do it faster and with more precision than us men. Shurouq is an expert now, many of the new models are created by her and she is very grateful to Rita who motivated her to work and be independent”.

Very proud, his wife Shuroug added, “I’m able to secure the education of my children, something that many families could not do, even if their children are good at school.”

Rima is thankful she made the right decision to interfere in the family business. “Thank God that my family appreciates what I am doing,” she said. “I am proud to be a woman who appreciate moral values and women’s rights. I am proud to spread this kind of example to other women in my community.”

Holy Land Handicraft Cooperative (HLHCS) has been selling Salsa’s Olivewood products for more than 15 years.  The long-term relationship has ensured continuity of income for the family. Recently, the workshop has received support from Caritas Jerusalem and Initiative Christlicher Orient in Austria to improve the workshop to reduce dust and noise.


Story contributor: Holy Land Handicraft Cooperative Society
For Internationa Women's Day 2018 celebration