Here Convivium is not just the coop's name

Where: Nablus, Palestine

Who: Bait Alkarama


 20 women employed and many involved

That it was meant to become a women affair, it was undeniable from the beginning: the home in the very heart of the Old City of Nablus was donated for creating a Women Center. That Nablus is the heart of palestinian art and cuisine is also well known.

Then, to create a socio-cultural center managed by women, putting food and gastronomic tradition at the center of a program supporting economical, social, psicological needs of women, it was the natural outcome

Now, Bait al Karama has not only restored the building, but has also created a nice kitchen for the Cookery School, a Multifunctional center for workshops and meetings, a Beauty Salon.

And the Bait al Karama twenty women are organizing dinners for large groups, a Counseling weekly meeting for support, workshops, and of course the Cookery School, to launch, preserve and evaluate the Palestinian cultural heritage and first “Slow Food Convivium” in Nablus.

The school coordinates courses and tailor-made programs, facilitated by the women chefs, suitable for professional chefs, food lovers and Middle East visitors. The activities cater from cooking sessions to guided tours to the Souk, from food shopping to special sessions for artists or academics. Not to miss: a visit to the farmers and the bread makers, to the tahina factory and the knafeh producers, in town and in the countryside.

Below, more info from the Project website

Bait al Karama foresees the establishment of a social-cultural centre run by women and managed according to a social enterprise business model, where food-related activities is the vehicle to develop regular income for the women involved as well as the mean to sustain a social and cultural meaningful program. At the heart of the project, two main goals: to support the social and economic needs of women of the Old City of Nablus struggling in the aftermath of the occupation by means of a food-based social enterprise. And to draw international attention to the Old City of Nablus as a place of Art and Culture, by initiating a number of cultural and artistic initiatives involving the local and wider Palestinian cultural scene as well as international guests and to encourage sustainable tourism. Through income generating activities Bait al Karama aims to achieve long-term financial sustainability, and to accomplish its social-cultural mission, whilst offering the women of the Old City employment and the chance to develop income and self-sustainability. An important dimension of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict concerns Israel’s control over the movement of Palestinian people, goods, and resources. In response to male retreat from the labor market, women have had to step into the public sphere and employ strategies to prevent family destitution and aid dependence. The difficulties the women have faced include unequal pay in low-status and unprotected jobs, limited education, business inexperience and the restrictions placed on women in a patriarchal society moving in traditionally male fields have all added up. Given the overall conflict environment that is leading to high unemployment and poverty, violence has intruded into the everyday lives and in the domestic sphere of Palestinians, affecting primly women and children. The economical conditions above described are, in the city of Nablus, worsen by the accentuated conservative environment that directly affects the public outreach of women; In this framework, the women sphere of the Old City of Nablus seeks opportunities for self-employment and building capacity in order to face the widespread economical difficulties and respond to the need of capacity building and self-confidence in acquire economical independence. Moreover, the Old City of Nablus offers no recreational centres and places for aggregation for women, consequently, not many opportunities are given to women to socialise and share psychological and social struggles. The development of local institutions for community empowerment ultimately can be a good source of involvement and experience for youth, both male and female. These can lead to greater social cohesion and community building and instill positive changes in attitude toward and practice of gender roles


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