SEP honours women at its core
Posted on March 02 2022
SEP honours the women at its core. SEP Artists embody our woman-led, innovative and unique social business as evidenced by their talents ultimately creating positive impact and changing the narrative around refugees. The empowerment and opportunities each woman achieves are evident. As such, SEP is a disruptor in the luxury fashion industry.
At SEP Jordan, we support women’s rights and achievements 365 days per year. And as a SEP Ambassador, you can feel proud knowing that as you cherish one of SEP’s hand-embroidered, one-of-a-kind pieces, you are also supporting the dreams and ambitions of a woman Artist in Jerash Camp in Jordan.
Together we continue the push for change and empowerment because there is so much still to do. Our mission? We are driven to raise thousands of refugee women and their families above the poverty line by empowering them to use their own skills, talent and commitment to their work to make a positive impact in their lives. They become "active economic agents" taking ownership for their well-being not only financially, but also psychologically and emotionally, disrupting the incessant miserable cycle of dependence on external aid or donations. SEP actively changes the narrative of poverty, refugees, AND "legacy" fashion: a true disruptor to the industry and the world. We're driven to change the perception of refugees worldwide and to enable each woman to provide for her family and improve the quality of their lives.
The UN officially recognised International Women’s Day in 1975, and each year sets a theme related to women’s rights. SEP already aligns with six of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and once again is in step with the 2022 UN Theme for International Women’s Day: Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow.
SEP X Gender Equality X Sustainability
Highlights from our SEP Social Impact Report 2021:
From SEP Jordan’s creation in 2013, the brand has grown to work with over 600 female Artists from initially 20, aged 18 to 56. As the women progress through the Embroidery Training program at the SEP-Tamari Foundation Academy, each student who completes her training to become a SEP Jordan Artist is then empowered to earn her way out of poverty. As SEP sales volumes grow around the world, we plan to work with every Artist who has completed the training program and to invite more and more women to join this ambitious and human-centered journey.
Moreover, as a result of their dedication, leadership, and skill level, long-term employees earn a multiple of minimum wage. The Artist is paid as soon as her creation passes inspection, regardless if the item sells. The Arab Women’s Enterprise Fund (AWEF) demonstrated through its survey of 50 SEP Jordan Artists that “financial gain” was the “most encouraging factor for participants” to begin working for the brand (Arab Women’s Enterprise Fund, 2018). Employees can earn between $5 to $300 in one month, depending on the number and complexity of pieces completed."
Additionally, employees are registered with Social Security, a rarity for Jerash camp residents. Gaining legal status removes the stigma of statelessness, creates a feeling of belonging and reinforces the sense of community. Besides the economic impact, SEP Jordan is committed to creating a safe, productive, and fulfilling work environment through employment opportunities as well as social impact activities. (SEP Social Impact Report 2021)
All of the Artists work together, teaching and inspiring one another. They bring this sense of community and pride home with them, widening the impact of the empowerment each Artist experiences. The ripple effect is evident as highlighted in the SEP Social Impact Report.
What else does SEP concretely do?
We and our partners host classes in first aid, art, yoga, English lessons, and many other activities. Support for domestic violence survivors is also provided, and activities are not just offered to Artists and their children, but to others within the community as well further amplifying the impact of our social business.
Lastly, SEP understands the need for more than just economic stability for the Artists. Safeguards are in place and remain a priority ensuring a limited 4-hour work day to preserve the health of the Artists’ eyes and hands. Work-life balance is equally and strongly encouraged by employees choosing their own schedule via a work-from-home policy. Finally, Artist payments are now executed via mobile wallet, so no cash is handled on the premises, also empowering each woman to manage her own earnings.
SEP Artists share their impressions
The landscape in Jordan is indisputably one of the most beautiful in the world. Notably, the perception of women, their landscape, is also making a positive change. Their progress is witnessed and making traction and is no longer a far-off dream. Highlighted in the program from January 2022, Echapees Belles, a visit to the SEP workshop by interviewing the Artists showcases this extremely well.
In our "Meet the SEP Artist Series", each featured Artist shares her impressions and sentiments what it has meant to work at SEP. Khadeejeh, in particular, speaks for so many of the women when she shares:
How has the fact that you are earning money as a woman been perceived by your family?
Khadeejeh: Everyone supported me when I started working: my husband, my mother and my father. They helped me as well! My husband would take on some of the housework when I was very busy.
A last word?
Khadeejeh: SEP opened a lot of opportunities for women. They can provide for themselves without getting under judgement from their husbands or their families.
Asma also shared that she feels reunited with old childhood friends with whom she'd lost touch, and she feels the economic impact that having a salary earned as a SEP Artist has on her own life and that of her family.
Other Artists share an improvement in their family situation since working at SEP and feeling better both psychologically and mentally.
How else is SEP positively impacting the world?
SEP prides itself on practicing sustainable production methods wherever possible. The brand’s products are hand-embroidered and predominately hand-assembled, with limited usage of machinery. SEP actively promotes recycling and upcycling through our use of recycled-based materials, and through fostering a culture of respect for the environment within the workplace. Finally, we have an ambitious goal to become carbon neutral by the end of 2022!
We celebrate ALL women this International Women's Day. Together a connected world stands stronger as we ensure that each one, each woman, may realise her dreams.
SEP is a luxury fashion and lifestyle Certified B Corporation. Each time you wear a SEP design, you can appreciate knowing that you’ve made a difference in the life of the Artist who created it. What story are you wearing? #SeenInSEP
Credit for all photos in this Blog post: Alaa Atwah©