By promoting economic resilience, Bedouin women are able to improve their economic situation, their standard of living and well-being, and to cope with unexpected changes in their personal, family or employment situation.
The program advances prosperity by providing education and specialized skills training to develop local businesses and so build long-term economic growth and a more competitive private sector in the region. The program ensures that women are able to participate equally in the economy and enjoy the fruits of increased prosperity.
Our strategies to promote the economic empowerment of Bedouin women are carried out in key projects, as follows:
- Direct employment through the Lakiya Weaving Initiative
- Developing available resources with Financial Literacy Courses and our Desert Gardens Project
- Building economic prosperity for Bedouin women through our Small Business Development Courses, and the Women's Small Business Forum.
LAKIYA WEAVING PROJECT – EST. 1992 – OVER 100 WOMEN HAVE BEEN EMPLOYED, HELPING THEM TO HELP THEIR FAMILIES
The Lakiya Weaving Project preserves the traditional Bedouin craft of weaving and at the same time it economically empowers Bedouin women, so they have fair wage earned with work carried out from their own home. The Lakiya Weaving Project has also worked with 15 renowned designers from around the world in the production of new designs.
Bedouin women produce all Lakiya Weaving’s rugs, bags and cushion-covers, carrying out all production processes from spinning and dyeing, to twining and weaving. All our wool is 100% natural thread sourced from sheep herded and sheered locally by Bedouin women.
The Weaving Project runs a Visitor’s Center to build awareness of Bedouin heritage, our livelihood, and the challenges we face. The Centre welcomes thousands of guests each year from around the world (over 4,500 in 2013 alone). Our guests learn about the weaving process, the traditional Bedouin way of life, and the challenges facing Bedouin women and their communities today.
FINANCIAL LITERACY COURSES – EST. 2012 – HELPING OVER 60 WOMEN AND THEIR FAMILIES
Sidreh’s Financial Literacy Project empowers women in vulnerable situations, both personally and financially, to increase their economic resilience. Sixty women and their families have participated in training courses that utilize simple tools that have the power to truly change the lives of participants.
Content includes personal empowerment and setting goals, family financial planning, spending control, how to access formal financial institutions, and how to access government benefits to leverage savings and assets (social security, pension plans, etc.).
Financial literacy gives women the skills and tools to understand their household expenses, and empower themselves to control their spending, create a personal and family budget, and even begin saving for the future
DESERT GARDENS PROJECT – EST. 2013 – OVER 60 WOMEN, CHILDREN AND MEN HAVE BENEFITED
Starting as a pilot project, the Desert Gardens has now benefited over 60 women, children and men, and 20 local and international volunteers also participated in its success. The project re-establishes Bedouin traditions and combines them with state-of-the-art technology to improve the welfare of Bedouin women and their families.
Three different types of small gardens have been developed to cultivate vegetables and fruits for family consumption. In each of the gardens different permaculture, aquaculture and hydroponic methods were tested – and in each case we always relied on natural resources available. The pilot phase confirmed that the gardens can play a significant role in enhancing the nutritional and emotional well-being necessary to build healthy and socially sustainable communities in the unrecognized villages.
The project is now being scaled up, and we anticipate reaching an additional 8 unrecognized villages in 2016, with approximately 4,000-5,600 children, 250 parents, 100 teachers and 10-20 experts and business people participating.
SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT – EST. 2013 – 30 WOMEN AND THEIR FAMILIES SUPPORTED
Over 30 women and their families have participated in this project, and significantly more than 10 new small enterprises are now in various stages of development.
The project gives women the personal and financial tools to manage small enterprises, and we support the female participants at all stages of their business development – establishment, development of an existing business, or the formalization of an informal enterprise.
Through various courses, we assist, support and guide women to develop a wide range of skills, including business development, financial and personnel management, and marketing. Overall, this project provides women with the necessary skills for professional empowerment and business development to help them succeed in their ventures.
WOMEN'S SMALL BUSINESS FORUM –EST. 2014 – 10 WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS SUPPORTED
The Bedouin Women’s Small Business Forum supports 10 businesswomen in the first professional body dedicated to supportive networking and the promotion of women business owners in the Bedouin sector.
Participants in the forum are all small business owners in the fields of clothing, jewelry, tourism, home linens and upholstery, flowers, beauty, photography, and fashion design. The Forum supports women's business networking, exchange, guidance and collaboration so all participants can successfully weather the challenges in the business world.
POSITIVE RESULTS OF SIDREH’S ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM
The results of Sidreh’s Economic Development Program show the significant and positive impact of our work. Current results reveal that:
- 35% more women gained a sense of personal empowerment (happier, less stressed, more energy and sense of calm and feeling peaceful).
- 50% more women better understand how to use resources efficiently.
- 37% more women reported that they understand how to plan financially for their household.
- There was a 37% increase in those who felt more comfortable making decisions about spending money.
- 89% of our participants increased their understanding of what special skills each woman has for work.
- 50% of participants increased their interest in working, either in their own business or other employment settings.
- 48% of participants reported an increase in their understanding of how to start a business.
The project evaluations show that real progress has been achieved in building economic development and advancing prosperity in the Negev. The program has contributed towards promoting an environment that supports business development, and lays the foundations for long-term economic growth and gender equality for Bedouin women and the community at large.