Qeshm Island – Lonely Planet Cites UNDP Work

22 Aug 2013

Probably more than a few readers think that UN websites tend to populate their pages with “feel-good” stories – written by the UN – about the UN’s own work.

For this reason we are pleased to share something written about our work by an entirely independent source.


Women of Qeshm selling their "Art for Conservation" products during a handicraft exhibition.

Here's an extract from the latest (2012) Lonely Planet Guide to Iran.

Art for Conservation (page 217)

“The women of Qeshm Island are known throughout Iran for their expertise in golabtoun douzi, the sewing of colourful designs onto fabric sometimes as embroidery and sometimes as an applique of sequins and /or hand-woven piping.  These designs often incorporate images of flowers or local marine life such as turtles and starfish. 

“Traditionally, women have worked on golabtoun douzi at home and rarely left their houses, leading to their social isolation and total economic dependence on males.  All of this changed in 2003, when a group of women from Shibderaz and Berkeh Khalaf villages were given assistance from the Small Grants Programme of the United Nations and a Tehran-based ecotourism outfit the Avaye Tabiata Paydar Institute to gather together and produce clothing and accessories featuring golabtoun douzi. The project was called “Art for Conservation” and the products were sold to tourists, with the profits shared between the women and local conservation projects.


Women of Qeshm preparing their "Arts for Conservation" goods for an handicraft exhibition.

“The programme has been so successful that the women have now opened three shops and significantly contributed to the funding of conservation efforts on the island.  They now have the opportunity to become financially independent (with the collapse of the local fishing and boat-building industries many have become the main breadwinners in their households) and they also leave their homes for part of each day to work with other women and operate the shops, giving  them a hitherto unimaginable freedom of movement as well as opportunities to socialize and communicate outside their immediate families.

“One of the shops is located in a handicraft booth at the entrance to Shibderaz village and two are in Berkeh Khalaf village (one next to the Khalij Supermarket and another at the entrance of the village near the school).  All three open for 9am to 8pm daily, they usually close for a few hours over lunchtime.  The shops sell hand-decorated shawls, bags, headbands, hairclips and clothes.”