As a group of entrepreneurial women learned how to carve basalt, sew traditional dresses, and discovered the history and culture of Umm el-Jimal in preparation to offer tours and crafts to site visitors, the media team from Open Hand Studios regularly dropped in to chat and follow their progress. Mixed with interviews from the project funders, directors, trainers and women themselves we put together a short film telling the story of this amazing group—the Umm el-Jimal Women’s Cooperative Society— and the groundbreaking 2014 Umm el-Jimal Women’s Empowerment Project.
Funded by UN-Women and UNESCO, and implemented along with the Umm el-Jimal Project, Al-Hima Foundation, Queen Zein Al Sharaf Institute for Development (ZENID), the Department of Antiquities of Jordan and the Ministry of Tourism, the project has thus far been a huge success. With only the first phase of training complete, five of the cooperative’s women already earn their monthly income by selling their own handmade basalt goods.
As of spring 2015, a second round of training is underway. These renewed efforts will help the women further develop their production and marketing skills, and boost income for even more families.