Inas and the tradition of Palestinian embroidery inside and outside the Gaza Strip

Getting the permit to Gaza is not easy or quick, if you want to do that you have to check security conditions. It is an unstable situation between ceasefires and attacks since many years, that sometimes doesn’t allow to plan the visit. So, we virtually meet Inas from our office in Jerusalem. Thanks to UNWOMEN we establish the connection, like around a holy fire we squeeze to fit in the frame, but unfortunately the signal is bad (weather? Facilities?) and we conclude to talk to Inas without the video, trying to figure out her face and moves, the room that we would have seen behind her, the story she tells. A conversation in a dark room, in connection with another planet, but still very interesting. “It is also in our heads” Hadil from UNWOMEN sadly admits, “but we must repeat it to ourselves every day and behave accordingly: West Bank and Gaza are just one land, it is called Palestine, not two separate worlds”. Hadil is right, but the reality on the ground looks different.

Inas is 28, single, after a degree in Business Administration she decided to involve some friends to establish a women entrepreneurship devoted to traditional embroidery, clothes bags and pillows, one of the most popular Palestinian heritage. Her family supported her since the beginning: one sister living in Ramallah arranged to sell the products in the West Bank, one brother (a bookshop keeper) allowed to employ his shop for the meetings with the workers. Inas’ broadened family represented since the beginning her main market – we are talking about 10,000 people!

Gathering her staff in a neutral space lets Inas to overcome a relevant social barrier for Gaza Strip mentality. These women’s husbands didn’t let them go to Inas’ house to work or just to meet her up, scared by any possible male presence over there – brothers, fathers, uncles. They can be employed at their house, where the single workers can focus on specific refinements, while ads start to run on Facebook and social media. Currently, Motarazat Sabaya FB fanpage is followed by more than 12,000 people (

Inas’ involvement in the Decent Work Programme allows her to invest some cash in online marketing and to acquire information about economics never known before: she learns how to calculate and reduce production costs, she understands meaning and centrality of networking between the different actors of the production chain. “We do not work anymore on the basis of what we know and we like to do but responding to the market needs, focusing on sale” she proudly admits, pointing the core of the Italian intervention for Palestinian entrepreneurship.

Today Inas has 40 associates and this experience exposed the importance of knowledge transmission to her: she wants to be a trainer and share with other entrepreneurs in Gaza her new awareness as businesswoman, her ability in public speaking, her deep willing to help other Inas to raise their voice and enhance their  business.