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Women empowerment: spotlight on a craftswoman

Exploring Mnarani, a district of Kilifi populated by a large Islamic community, the UNIMC team came across the atelier “Lamu Art & Craft” run by Hafswa Ahmed Omar, a craftswoman whose life is a work of art ( Born in Lamu, raised in Mombasa, after dwelling and working in different towns in Kenya, now Hafswa is based in Kilifi, where she opened a new workshop. She started to work as an accountant in an art gallery in Lamu, where she discovered the artistic potentials of wood. By using jacaranda, mangrove, neem, and teak woods, she makes bowls, vessels, and plates which she creatively decorates with traditional Swahili patterns reinterpreted according to the needs of contemporary lifestyle. Hafswa, who is married and mother of four, with her strong and independent personality, struggled during her life both to fight social biases and to oppose customary laws, which didn’t accept a woman engaged in men’s works. At present with her business, she is not only supporting her family, but also offering an educational space to train young girls in carving art, encouraging them to make use of their skills as a path toward freedom.

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