The Arab Women’s Union in Bethlehem is a non-profit charitable, social and cultural society, founded in 1947 in Bethlehem. Its first mission was to support needy Palestinian women by providing them jobs that allowed them to have a decent life. The Union aims to promote and support local handicrafts, together with Palestinian Folklore and culinary tradition, offering help to needy women and children. The society, which leads numerous activities and cultural centers, manages an Embroidery Centre, started in 1968 with the goal of providing work for disadvantaged women and to preserve traditional embroidery skills, an integral part of Bethlehem culture and heritage. The embroidery patterns are drawn from the ornate designs of traditional dress, and are adapted to modern items as pillows, wallets, purses and accessories.
The women who embroider are trained at the Center and receive the raw materials, as threads and canvas, to work at home. This enables them to balance work alongside care of their families and homes, empowering them inside and outside their families.