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Meet Basima Barham, International Public Relations Director of the Holy Land Handicraft Cooperative Society (HLHCS), who we like to describe as the passionate driving force behind the success of empowerment of many Palestinian women.

Holy Land Handicrafts supports 150 women with a steady livelihood. We’re honoured to work with them, ensuring continuous support for Palestine women and makers. 

We talked to her about her passion for helping women and her work with Holy Land Handicraft Cooperative Society (HLHCS).

Tell us a bit about yourself and the work you do at Holy Land Handicraft Cooperative Society (HLHCS).

I handle the International Public Relations at the Holy Land Handicraft Cooperative Society (HLHCS). I come from a Palestinian city in Bethlehem called Beit Sahour. At the age of five, my family moved to Lima, Peru. I returned to Beit Sahour after my marriage and worked in the private sector for 17 years. That's when I had a calling.  I wanted to work towards a cause - to develop the handicraft sector in Palestine. I joined HLHS in 2012, after being greatly inspired by their mission to decrease emigration resulting from the political situation, and in turn help sustain the Palestinian artisans, promote their products, and improve their standard of living.

I can't stress the importance in spreading the Fair Trade principles across the country.

'With Fair Trade, we are confident that no one will leave home to earn a pittance and women will have the same rights and opportunities.'

 Fair Trade is a key symbol for peace and a tool to achieve our aspirations. In 1991, HLHCS became the first Arab member of the WFTO member, and in 2015, we achieved the status of a Guaranteed Member after passing the Guarantee System (GS) process. 

​Realising my passion for a better tomorrow, I was nominated to serve on the Board of the World Fair Trade Organization Africa & Middle East as a Secretary in 2013-2015 and then, as Chair in 2015-17. I strive to continue to work for structural changes as per Future Governance factors of WFTO, gender equality and women empowerment with WFTO Global Board or with our partners, and community.

"I'm determined and inspired to keep going no matter the circumstances we face, giving 100% of my  time, effort and energy. I have a passion to help others, My heart is content seeing the difference we make everyday in people’s lives, constantly giving without expecting anything in return. I love my people and country - this inspires me to support economic growth and improve living standards."

What are some of the challenges you've had to face?
In Palestine, changing the norm or traditions is an easy task. We need to educate the women and let them know their rights without creating any social issues. In order to achieve this, we help them proving to them men the capabilities women have, the impact we can make in community when we actively working.
Palestinian women always dabble between tradition, religion, peace-building, political situations around them, their obligations to their families, adding on to the burdens they already have. These have unfortunately forced them to take a backseat on earning for themselves and their families. 
We support women handicraft producers.
We work with women to empower them, raise their capacity, provide them with the support they need to help them become more resilient and to be able to grow in their business and personal life. 


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