Source: Wide Angle: "Pickles, Inc."
The Azka Pickle Cooperative is an all-female enterprise that has empowered a group of Palestinian widows. The women are faced with more challenges than a group of businessmen is likely to encounter, but are successful in meeting these challenges head on with great benefit to their cooperative. In this video from Wide Angle, viewers experience the ups and downs of this all-female operated pickle business.
Middle East Map (Image)
Palestine/Israel Map (Image)
Arab women living in Israel face many challenges living under the patriarchal values and social customs of traditional Islam. Though theologians argue that the Qur'an does not establish the superiority of men over women, patriarchal customs often predominate in many Arab societies. There can be social disapproval towards Arab women who want to enter the workplace. A woman's primary responsibility is usually interpreted as fulfilling her role as a wife and mother, whereas a man's role is to work and be able to financially support his wife and family. Adding to this struggle is the fact that Muslim women often retain their household duties even if they do enter the workforce. Many Arab women find it difficult to balance their home responsibilities with a desire to find work outside the home, and may only be able to find the time for part-time employment.
On top of social and familial obstacles, the tension between Jews and Arabs in Israel has intensified the adversity faced by Arab women. Mobility is severely restricted due to this ongoing conflict. Security concerns persuade many women to stay home. However, high rates of poverty and unemployment have forced Arab men living in Israel to make attitudinal changes. In the last three years, the number of working Arab women has increased. Many uneducated Arab women are turning to self-employment. Educated Arab female professionals are taking jobs even if it requires going out of town.
The Wide Angle film "Picles, Inc." offers a portrait of a small-scale, all female business in Israel. Eight women, all widows, established a pickling plant using skills they all learned from their mothers. Keeping this costly venture solvent and coping with social opposition to a female-led business proved to be an extremely tough task. Being willing to break taboos, these widows became the most unlikely revolutionaries.
INTERVIEWER: You've changed in a short time from a woman with, really, a very hard life into the director of a company.
SAMIRA KAZMOZ: Seriously, I never could have imagined I'd be a director. Really!
SAMIRA KAZMOZ: How are you? We brought you our new kind of tomatoes. We'll give you five jars of pickled tomatoes to try. Do we unload five jars of tomatoes and five jars of cabbages?
NARRATOR: Each jar of pickles costs two dollars to produce and sells to stores for three. Costs are high as the women do everything by hand. It's a challenge any small business faces -- but Kazmoz recognizes that the personal touch is a selling point for local buyers.
SAMIRA KAZMOZ: They're all stuffed with peppers and garlic.
MANAGER: It has a homemade taste.
SAMIRA KAZMOZ: Everything is homemade.
MANAGER: If the price is right, I'll take a lot.
NARRATOR: The small-scale, all-female operation holds less appeal for the driver of a semi pulling in for a delivery. Each bag of salt weighs over 100 pounds.
MAN: This is not my fault. If I knew that this was the situation, that you're all women and there are no men around to help you, I wouldn't have come with the salt bags.
Maybe you can find a man you know to help. The sack is heavier than I am!
WOMEN: Come on girls, everyone can carry a sack of salt on her back.
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