Gamila is a woman who won her independence through her own efforts, an advocate of rights for Druze women, and an example of coexistence and understanding among the Jewish, Muslim and Druze women who work at her factory.
(Embassy of Israel, Madrid)
Organized by the city of Segovia, "Women who transform the world" (Encuentro con Mujeres que transforman el mundo) has convened annually since March 2011, with the participation of well-known artists, writers, philosophers, actresses, journalists and more. This year the star of the event is 76-year-old Gamila Hiar from the Druze village of Peqi’in in the Galilee.
The Druze people know the healing secrets of nature, and one of the laws of the Druze tradition is to respect and help others. "Beauty is the secret word of nature," says a Druze proverb, and Savta (Hebrew for grandmother) Gamila knows it well.
Gamila is not only the first woman entrepreneur of Druze origin who has turned a small business into a multinational company producing soaps and beauty products, with more than $50 million profit per year. She is also a woman who won her independence through her own efforts, an advocate of rights for Druze women in Israel, and an example of coexistence and understanding among the Jewish, Muslim and Druze women who work at her factory in Peqi’in: Gamila Secret. Its soaps, sold in more than 40 countries, are produced from virgin olive oil and a special formula of 15 herbs found in the hills of the Galilee.
Gamila learned the first medicinal herbal recipe from her parents. After the birth of her first child, and with the support of her family, she confronted Druze traditions that did not allow women to work outside the home. She was active in Naamat, a social organization helping women to work outside the home, and gradually became known for her fight for the rights of women and her small soap factory.
Gamila spent years perfecting the formula and, in 1995, convinced that she had a unique product, began to market the soap as endowed with regenerative properties. The first orders came in 1997, following a newspaper article, and since then international success and recognition have been emphatic. The small soap factory evolved into an engine of change, providing hundreds of women with an independence that was previously inconceivable, and access to education is growing.
Savta Gamila is today 76 years old, a widow with five children, 15 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. She is proud to be the mother of the first Druze woman to attend college and the first to receive a driver’s license. Her soap factory remains faithful to its origins, employing only women – Muslim, Jewish, Christian and Druze.