CHERRY BUTTONS COOPERATIVE
Amina watched as women in her home city intricately threaded knots into the iconic buttons that go shimmering down a Moroccan jellaba. She watched as middle men came and gave these women pennies for their skilled handwork and then sold the buttons at high prices to tailors and shops across the country. And then, she stopped watching.
Amina stood up and said, we will sell these ourselves and give the profit to the women making them! She organized a cooperative which quickly grew to 400 in which women take charge of their lives, their work, their income and earn 3 to 4 times what they previously earned.
Amina went on to form a sewing and embroidery cooperative for women with skills and sought to find them markets for those skills. She began to teach women in the rural Atlas Mountains how to use natural dyes, re-introducing an ancient practice almost forgotten. She bought looms for the ground floor of her house and is teaching women how to weave. A formidable presence and mover for the rights of women in Morocco, Amina Yabis ignites the possibilities in the women around her, and serves as a voice for them to the King and other leaders in her country. When Amina speaks, they listen.
So does her daughter-in-law, Wafae. Wafae's mother died when she was young and she came to Amina to make buttons and support herself. Now, she lives in the same home with Amina as well as her husband and two sons who are growing in the care of these two formidable forces. She graduated from the University of Fez with a degree in English Literature. I want to spend all of myself on this life and not hold back, Wafae says. Women can do anything. I know that now. We can do anything.
The Ibu Foundation wants to fuel Wafae and her ambitions by overseeing the burgeoning women's cooperatives in her area, growing them with care and guidance from her mother-in-law, Amina. There is enormous potential for women to thrive in this area, to organize themselves into sustainable work forces utilizing their creative skills. WeAreIbu.org is providing a workspace for Wafae and enough salary so that she can leave her daycare job and devote herself full-time to the successful expansion of these groups - growing them through training, quality control, and market access. In addition, we hope to provide much needed industrial strength sewing machines in 2019.
Amina has paved a clear path with her passionate and effective work on behalf of women; now, she is training her daughter in law to take this movement forward, elevating the greatest number of women possible into self-sufficiency and self-respect. We love to support the wisdom of the generations working together to establish a significant force of empowerment for women in Morocco.