Promoting Economic Independence for Women
Engaged in Handicrafts & Art
The project focuses on a small community of five women, residents of Jisr al-Zarqa who work in handicrafts. The main ambition of the project is to develop female empowerment and promote economic independence with this group of women, while exploiting the potential of accessible technology, such as smartphones, social networking apps, WhatsApp, Zoom, etc.
The women are graduates of the “Economic Development Advancement Program”, which has been operating in the town since January 2018. The program has provided them with vocational training in traditional crafts, as well as foundations in self-employment. It was funded by the US Government “MEPI” Foundation, in partnership with “Juha” Guesthouse, Tel-Aviv University, and the “Mossawa” Centre for the Rights of Arab Citizens. The participation of the women in these programs has given them tools and promoted their skills and practices in different handicrafts like macrame, sewing bags for laptops, embroidery, micro-macrame jewellery & beads, and straw braiding. After all, the program strives to improve the women's abilities to earn a stable and satisfying income from the sale and marketing of the various products.
However, our project is part of a series of projects that have been identified in collaboration with the residents and stakeholders in Jisr al-Zarqa. The main purpose is to connect the locality with technologies, for the development and growth of the locality and the realisation of its potential.
The project process included collaboration with the women and stakeholders including not non local ones, striving to help them to develop more quickly in two aspects; economic and self-realisation.
The project development process method included Included many steps such as getting to know the women and understanding their barriers and aspirations, collecting and analysing data, getting inspiration from other women's success stories, and learning from their experiences. Women like these from “Achoti” organisation, a fair trade shop for women, that we collaborated with through the project development process .
By the end of the semester, we formed two main ideas that somehow were related one to another, taking into account the constraints and barriers that have arisen. The first one is building a virtual community for female empowerment, and the second is opening and managing a business marketing account on social media and including a digital album in it.
We got the inspiration for the idea of promoting the community with the help of technological tools from the extensive professional literature in the field. Precedents that helped us reach the more accurate ideas of a virtual community, were the discussions that arose at the enrichment session that took place as part of the course, and also our personal experience from virtual communities for female empowerment in which some of us participated. This is in addition to our familiarity with marketing through social networks and experience in online shopping.
Building a virtual community for female empowerment
The goal of the virtual community is to create a group of women who have had to face similar challenges and have experienced success stories. The community is a platform for sharing, inspiring, and empowering women; and will serve as a motivation to accompany them in the process of achieving financial independence. In the execution process, schedules were built for a series of lectures and meetings, and the content was determined as needed, some of which will be physical to strengthen the relationship. In the first stage, we revealed the idea among the women from Jisr al-Zarqa to get their approval and understand their willingness to commit to it. Then we coordinated between Michal Sadeh, their mentor, and Shula Keshet from the "Achoti" organisation, who will reveal the idea to women from various associations and organisations.
In the second stage we will organise the first lectures of the community, and the connection we created between Michal and Shula will dictate the future plans of the program.
The sessions will be performed through the Zoom software, combined with a physical-virtual space application that simulates a physical session. In consultation with all parties, we will plan a series of meetings that includes; sharing sessions, in which women will share success stories, raise issues for discussion, workshops carried by the women themselves participating in the community, workshops and lectures by professionals from various fields, personal-level counselling and guidance (there will be one-on-one meeting room available for professional advices).
Business-marketing account on social media
Social media is an integral part of the technological age we are in. It is free, accessible to the general public and has changed the way its information, structure and availability are delivered to reach current and future customers. Hence, many small businesses use social media marketing to promote their business and achieve visibility, profitability and sustainability in order to survive in the current competitive era. In addition, social media helps business owners and executives to learn by integrating them in interactive relationships with their peers, the community and the wider environment. That’s why opening and managing a virtual business account on social media networks, such as Instagram and Facebook, is a powerful marketing tool for women as beginners in the field. The women will also be able to learn and enrich their knowledge through the same account, and also increase their self-confidence and training in the virtual space in general, in the hope that they will want to open a bank account and start selling through it in the future.
In order to promote the idea of managing an account on a social network, in the first stage we recruited a volunteer from the women's group, who will take charge of the management of the account on social media for the group. The process of assimilating the idea of the account and its management will begin with guidance and accompaniment to the administrator of the account to a stage where she could manage the account independently. At the same time, we recruited for them workshops in professional photography for the products, although they underwent basic training in product photography by smartphone camera as part of the same course we do now in previous years. The workshops will be more for refreshing their previous knowledge, while acquiring a new set of tools and developing photography skills, with the aim to reach an adequate level of taking quality photos independently.
Creating a digital album
One of the most common tools today for online marketing is a digital product catalogue. The catalogue is an online booklet that can be browsed and has sound effects of browsing to give the feeling of flipping through a paper booklet. The photographs for the catalogue will be taken by a professional photographer who will also conduct the photography workshops for the women, so each one of them will have a portfolio of professional photos of her work. We will also note that each woman has a unique logo that represents her, made by a professional designer in previous projects, and it will be included in the portfolio.
Together with the women, a marketing profile was built, which tells their personal story in a few words, containing their logo, area of specialisation and ways of communication. All of these products will be collected and designed by a professional designer, who will later pass it to the women as a website so that they will be able to share it with their clients.
To the Digital Album: https://online.pubhtml5.com/rnva/kbah/#p=1