While the Tunisian economy suffers from Tunisia's various political troubles, the artist Sadika Keskes wants to break away from the traditional economic model, and employs women as sewers in her new workshop.
When she is not in her creative studio, she is rehabilitating a neglected textile factory. Sadika Keskes is an artist known for her glassblowing skills in Tunisia, whose work is exhibited in several museums and exported worldwide. For over 30 years, the artist has been working with glass in the workshop she created in Tunis, by the sea, after studying at the Beaux-Arts School in Tunis and training in Murano, near Venice.
Her Mediterranean-style glass creations are also sold as decorative objects in her Tunisian store, in the Centre de Réhabilitation des Métiers d’art (R.M.A.) which she created in 1999 and which houses a workshop, an exhibition room and a cultural space in addition to her store.
But for the past few months, Keskes has embarked on a somewhat different project: reinvesting an abandoned textile factory in Bejaoua, a suburb of Tunis.
Bringing the local economy to life through the talents of women
This initiative, Sadika Keskes first wanted to carry it in order to give back work to female sewers who found themselves jobless when industrial groups left Tunisia after the revolution in 2011. “They left and threw out their employees. They threw away millions of people,” she told TV5 Monde.
After investing in a factory abandoned by one of these industrial groups 6 years ago, which were well established in Tunisia, Sadika Keskes hired several female sewers who were left in great difficulty after they lost their jobs. And this is how this small business was born: Sadika designs the sewing pieces and the village seamstresses make them.
Above all, Sadika Keskes wants to adopt an economic model radically opposed to what was used so far in the textile industry: to give local workers dignity and employ them in respect with fair trade. This is confirmed by Fatma, one of the sewers participating in the project, leaving behind a difficult period of unemployment: “This is what we, women, are asking for: to work in dignity. If you allow me to work with respect, I will give you my life.”