How One Tiny Beauty Product Is Making A Big Difference Women's Lives.
Increased demand for Argan Oil provides autonomy and freedom for women in a traditionally male-dominated society.
For Centuries, the extraction of argan oil was the exclusive domain of the Berber women of southern Morocco, employing a labor intensive process and relying on their traditional knowledge to produce the highest quality oil. They used the oil for everything from cooking to taming unruly hair, strengthening brittle nails and soothing irritated and blemished skin.
Beginning in the 19th century, numerous studies by domestic and foreign institutions confirmed the many benefits of argan oil. However, the exact substances that gave the oil its unique properties were unknown until Professor Zoubida Charrouf of the Science Faculty at Mohamed V. University in Rabat, Morocco, discovered two molecular substances - an antimicrobial agent and an antioxidant – unique to the argan tree.
In the mid-1990s, Charrouf began organizing Berber women to produce and sell argan oil over the protests of men, who were traditionally the sole bread-winners in Berber society. But as they began to see the economic benefits their enthusiasm grew, and eventually they even started encouraging more women to join. Today there are more than 150 co-ops, with the most successful generating sales of $650,000 annually.
Employing women who may be widowed or divorced and still have family responsibilities, the cooperatives enable them to earn ten times more than they were previously earning producing the oil on their own.
Many of the co-operatives offer childcare benefits and hours that are suitable to meeting the needs of the women's family and children. Some of the cooperatives offer women a place to live. All of them provide a chance for the women to socialize as they work in a traditional seated assembly line, laughing and telling stories as they skillfully crack open the argan nuts – a process that has proved difficult to mechanize.
As the demand for argan oil grows, the cooperatives have taken advantage of new and improved machines to speed up the extraction process, improve the quality of the oil, double the oil's shelf life and reduce waste. This has enabled the cooperatives to successfully reach an international market.
The traditional knowledge of argan oil combined with the organization of cooperatives and the adoption of modern processing techniques has brought significant change to the women producing argan oil and the society in the region as a whole. It's easy to see some of the effects, such as nicer clothes for the women and their children, or households that are better maintained. Other benefits are less obvious; many women have invested their earnings in education for themselves or their children.
Above all, argan oil has come to represent a chance for economic and social freedom for these women, providing them with a degree of autonomy in a traditionally male-dominated society and helping them become more aware of their rights.
About Kioba Natural Skincare
Kioba Natural Skincare is a socially responsible skincare company dedicated to bringing the highest quality natural and organic cosmetics. Their Organic Argan Oil is imported directly from Morocco and meets USDA and Eco Cert Organic Standards.
Kioba Natural Skincare
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