Women from Gaza make beauty tools from local herbs
The project is internationally funded and includes various plants such as rosemary, basil and mint.
For years, Palestinian farmers have been exporting herbs to Europe, where they are used in the manufacture of cosmetics. Now a team of women in the Gaza Strip has transferred this process to the Strip, to take over the extraction of oils and manufacture products such as shampoo and moisturizers, which are sold in 50 stores, including 30 pharmacies, across Gaza.
In a factory in Gaza City, four women working on the internationally-funded project use steam distillation to extract elements from different plants, including rosemary, basil, mint, thyme and chamomile.
"When you hold the product, you feel that it is taking something from the land without additives," Rifqa El Hamlawy, chairperson of the Najd Development Forum, who is supervising the project, told Reuters about the project, which uses herbs from farms run by women only.
The project produces 17 products, including disinfectants and body lotion, with the trade name “GG”, derived from the English words “Green Gold”, which means green gold, which is the name given to mint by farmers in northern Gaza.
Al-Hamalawy said, "We are proud as women that we thought about this production, and that we thought of a work that parallels European countries... We hope that they support these women, and that they develop their situation."
Australia and the global charity Oxfam are supporting the project, which aims to empower women and support the economy.
Although the project's scope is small so far, participants say it is already making an impact in Gaza, where the unemployment rate is around 50%.
According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, unemployment among women is 62%.
Dawlat Maarouf said that before the project, she struggled to make ends meet by selling the mint and thyme she grows in local markets.
Marouf, who is 55 years old and has 12 children, says, “I get up at five in the morning, and I go down to the floor, and I prepare 40 or 50 kilograms for the factory, and they go after the factory, they take it, and they make soap and shampoo.”
Ikhlas, her daughter-in-law, said she did not know the herbs had other uses than cooking.
She added, "It will develop and grow, spend on us, and will provide the money for our children and families."
The pharmacist, Nermin Al-Banna, displays the products of the project in her pharmacy.
She says, “These products are very surprising to me, because they are natural products that do not contain chemicals. I have tried them on many people, and many customers, and they gave me a very respectful evaluation.”
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