Powering the local economy, Gaza women create cosmetics from local herbs
[July 29, 2021: Rebecca Shavit]
For years, Palestinian farmers have been turning herbs into high-end cosmetics and beauty products and exporting them to Europe.
Now a group of women from Gaza have brought these recipes and lessons home to create products such as shampoo and moisturizer which are sold in 50 stores, including 30 pharmacies, across the West Bank.
The 4 woman team currently makes 17 different products, including cleansers and body wash, under the brand GG (green gold), also known as mint from their factory in Gaza City.
The women use steam distillation to draw out the ingredients from plants including rosemary, basil, mint, thyme and chamomile.
"When you hold the product, you feel like you are taking something from the earth - with no additives," Refqa Al-Hamalawi said.
"As women, we're proud of the idea and the production, an idea like in European countries," Hamalawi said.
The project is internationally supported by Australia and the global charity Oxfam. The women involved say the project has already begun to have an impact in Gaza. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the general unemployment rate is around 50% and the unemployment rate for women is closer to 62%.
Projects like this have are demonstrably closing the employment gap for women.
Before this project, Dawlat Marouf, a 55-year-old mother of 12, struggled to make a living selling the mint and thyme she farms in local markets. Now, she prepares 40-50 kg orders each day for the factory.
The project will "develop us, make a source of income for our children and our families", Marouf's daughter-in-law, Ekhlas said.
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