Artisanat des Femmes de Khenifra

Artisanat des Femmes de Khenifra

The Artisanat des Femmes de Khenifra is a cooperative of Moroccan women who, with the assistance of Peace Corps Volunteer Linda Zahava, transformed their traditional skill at needle-weaving buttons for the djellaba garment into creating unique jewelry using these buttons as beads.

These women once worked independently at home, living in poverty and selling their buttons to male tailors who made and sold the djellabas—and who also enjoyed the profits. The women now work together cooperatively to make “button or bead” earrings, bracelets, and necklaces that they sell locally and abroad.

A traditional folk art evolved into an empowering economic opportunity for these artisans. Their skills as artisans are now recognized, and they have become entrepreneurs. When they were invited to participate in an international folk art market, but denied visas, Laurie Stusser-McNeil joined Linda to represent the artisans in the US. All proceeds from sales are wired to an account set up for the women.

The success of this cooperative sets an example for other women in their community and Moroccans at large. These co-op members are “traditional button makers,” leading traditional lives in their family and community while also paving the way to social change and the betterment of all women in Morocco.

“Our jewelry has given a tradition a new life. We have introduced the world and Morocco to our jewelry and it will be a new way to keep the traditions alive” 
- Rachida Ousbigh, President, Artisanat des Femmes de Khenifra, Morocco

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