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Aug 22

Making Good in Morocco: Knotted Buttons

The story of Amina Yabis and the Cherry Buttons Cooperative (officially the Sefrou Women’s Silk Button Cooperative), a women’s craft cooperative that Amina founded, is a ClothRoads favorite. The knotted buttons made by hand by Moroccan women are not only beautiful, but tell a story of empowerment and independence.

The Many Styles of Buttons

The Many Styles of Buttons

A wife and mother of four, Amina’s remarkable life is a story of belief and action that has transcended all conventional wisdom and cultural limits. Her work with the Cooperative and beyond has brought literacy, education, and improved economic potential to thousands of girls and women in Morocco. It’s also led to more opportunity for her to have an impact as the treasurer and board member of a new center for women’s issues funded by the King of Morocco, a rare honor for a woman.

Moroccan artist Amina Yabis at the Santa Fe Folk Art Market 2013.

Moroccan artist Amina Yabis at the Santa Fe Folk Art Market 2013.

We caught up with Amina and her translator, Gregg Johnson, at the Santa Fe Folk Art Market last month for a quick update between customers at the Cooperative’s busy booth. “The most important thing is women,” Amina said when asked about the rewards of her success. “The co-op can sell more things and the world knows more about them.”

Building on her experience organizing communities and developing leadership, Amina will participate in working on a range of important issues at the new center. These include AIDS, domestic violence and family planning. “Amina is breaking new ground every day in Morocco while working with the Cooperative,” Gregg added.

Meanwhile, Amina and the beautiful handmade “cherries,” or silk buttons, have become synonymous with bettering women’s lives in Morocco. The Cooperative is included in the Museum of International Folk Art’s exhibition Empowering Women: Artisan Cooperatives that Transform Communities, currently at the Burke Museum at the University of Washington. And ClothRoads is proud to continue to share in the success of Amina and all of the women and families who benefit from her vision and commitment.

Anthropologist Susan Davis videotaped some footage of Amina Yabis making a button. You can view it here.





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