December 20, 2008

What do a Bedouin woman in Israel and a woman in Philadelphia have in common? A lot!

Traditionally, Bedouin women living in the Middle East are not allowed to work outside their home, let alone make a salary that contributes to the greater financial and social welfare of their tribe and family. However, a new generation of Bedouin women are changing that belief.

A JTA online article, Bedouin women weave tradition, economics together by Jo-Ann Mort, reports that these women are finding old ways to create new lives for themselves and their daughters: "Though the method is old, the women who run the project are part of a new generation of Bedouin women whose work is empowering women who for millennia were denied social and economic opportunities in their conservative society." The project is called Lakiya Negev Weaving, led and supported by a grassroots organization called Sidreh.

The women who are employed gather in their homes to weave together traditional Bedouin colors or a contemporary palate to create rugs to be bought and sold throughout Israel. In addition to the work, women who are employed with Lakiya must agree as a condition of their employment to take part in educational seminars in women's health care. Economic sustainability, education, and social gathering provide a formula for social change.

Ok, so what do these Bedouin women have in common with a Philadelphia woman?

Ahyana King has been getting local press and recognition latetly for her new line of socially conscious and stylish t-shirts called Phreedum.

Phreedum is an independent novelty t-shirt company for men, women, and infants. Phreedum is dedicated to providing unparalleled creatively constructed clothing to the socially conscious, fashion-forward individual. Ahyana uses the creativity of fashion design to raise money through the sales for non-profit organizations currently addressing societal challenges such as poverty, HIV/AIDS, and access to education. She also has a book scholarship fund for men pursuing an undergraduate degree in education or social work and women pursuing an undergraduate degree in math or sciences.

For Ahyana, Phreedum has provided her not only with a creative outlet, and a unique way to express herself, but has been a vehicle to create individual and social change. Now that is empowering!

More information about Negev Bedouin Weaving, please visit

For more information about Phreedum, please visit

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