Palestinian Women - Building a Better Future

Speeches Shim

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

USAID’s vision of a prosperous and peaceful world is one in which women, girls, men, and boys enjoy equal economic, social, cultural, civil, and political rights. Our programs work toward a world where women are equally empowered to secure better lives for themselves, their families, their communities, and their countries.

With women representing half of the Palestinian society in the West Bank and Gaza, USAID is committed to ensuring that female empowerment, gender equity, diversity, equity, and inclusion are incorporated in all of our activities.

Palestinian women are known for their strength, tenacity, and resilience. USAID is proud to support Palestinian women leaders working to empower other women, close gender-based gaps, and improve their communities. Below are stories of some of the amazing Palestinian women we engage with, support, and are proud to call partners.

 

Meet Mandy: The Only Female Palestinian Engineer on USAID’s Project Site in Gaza

“Making it to the top was arduous, but staying there is the challenge.”

USAIDWBG - Women History Month - Mandy
Mandy Standing In Front of Construction Site

According to Mandy, Gaza is seeing more and more women challenging the segregation of professions; like IT, technology, and engineering, are still considered ‘male professions’. However, there is still a long way to go. 

“We need to always remind ourselves that our gender does not define us or what we can do.  We need to support each other and continue to challenge this notion by digging our way through society.”

Mandy works as the Safety/Office Engineer on the Rosary Sisters’ School project in Gaza. She sees herself in the young girls at the school and this drives her to reach her goals by inspiring them to achieve theirs. Her message to the students and to Palestinian women, in general, is: “You will never realize your full potential if you fall victim to the traditional roles our society forces upon us. Only you can be the genuine change you want to see in society.”

 

Meet Madees: General Manager at Taybeh Brewing Co. and the Only Female Brewer in the Middle East

“Palestinian women are an essential part in reinventing our society and with time, dedication and hard work, I believe we women will succeed collectively.”

USAID/WBG - Women History Month - Madees
Madees at Work

Not only is Madees the general manager at Taybeh Brewing Co. and the only female brewer in the Middle East, she is also an active member of civil society and has been serving as a member of EcoPalestine's board of directors since 2018.

With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting the Palestinian tourism sector, Madees’ family-owned Taybeh Golden Hotel has been closed since March 2019. Through USAID’s Small and Medium Enterprise Assistance for Recovery and Transition (SMART) project, Madees hopes to help her family revive the hotel and get it back to business.

An entrepreneur at heart, Madees recognizes that Palestinian “women entrepreneurship has been historically confined to limited industries such as agriculture and handicrafts, although this has been recently changing very slowly. Despite the many challenges, women who have taken leadership roles tend to be motivated, innovative, hard-working, and patient. My fellow women leaders have proven to be effective leaders in a male dominated business environment.”

 

Meet Sahar: Example of Women Leadership and Lifetime Advocate for Youth Development and Empowerment

“Strengthening the role of women in society is a basic pillar of the development and advancement of any society.”

USAID/WBG - Women's History Month - Sahar
Sahar Engaging with Youth

Through USAID’s Positive Youth Engagement project, and in her role at the Center for Youth Economic Empowerment (CYEE), Sahar’s work focuses on the social and economic empowerment of Palestinian youth

“The lack of political representation for young people, the high rates of unemployment, and the loss of the right of freedom of expression and decision-making have resulted in a state of desolation and a loss of hope among youth for a better tomorrow.” 

When talking about women’s role in development, Sahar sees “a great need to invest in the energy and capabilities of women, especially young women,” and to create tailored opportunities that address their needs and challenges, and allow them to participate and take an active role in changing perceptions. This shift in perception of women’s role helps them better define who they are, what they want and how to achieve fulfillment and self-realization.

“As a Palestinian woman from a small village in Ramallah, I faced many societal challenges related to traditions and customs. But twenty years of work taught me not to lose hope, to keep going, and not to lose faith in change despite all the challenges.” 

 

Meet Eman: Breadwinner, Head of her Family and the Epitome of Strong Palestinian Women

“I see many good examples of powerful Palestinian women. I feel deep respect for these women. Most Palestinian women are strong and deal with multiple responsibilities just like men. They have ambitions and are creative when they need support and opportunities.”

USAID/WBG - Women's History Month - Eman
Eman Getting Food for Her Family

Eman, a widow and mother of ten, is the sole breadwinner of her household in Yatta, Herbon, and is the epitome of the strength and resilience Palestinian women are known for! Her inspiration and motivation come from doing what is best for her children.

Eman works multiple jobs to provide for her children and grandchildren. Despite all her hard work, Eman’s salary is significantly below the minimum wage. Through USAID and World Food Programme assistance, 59,000 people, including Eman, receive electronic food vouchers that provide them and their families with nutritious food. 

This food assistance allows Eman to prepare at least one daily meal for her family. “I cannot imagine our life without the food voucher assistance. It is very important for us. I look forward to the beginning of each month.”

 

Meet Rou’a: The Fresh Graduate with A Passion for Making an Impact

“Women need to stand with each other, for each other, and be the support system that we desperately need, and then maybe changing our country’s reality will be more possible.”

USAID/WBG - Women History Month - Rou'a
Young Palestinian Women, Rou'a

Interested in the role women play in conflict mitigation and reconciltaion, Rou’a is looking to explore the impact of conflict on the attitudes of Palestinian women living in the West Bank in areas of direct contact in the conflict towards peace and their involvement in reconciliation and peacebuilding efforts.

Rou'a will do this through her “Project for Peace” initiative, which is supported by USAID’s “PEACE for Youth” project in partnership with the Palestianian Peace Coalition.

As a young Palestinian woman herself, Roa’u can relate to the struggles young Palestinians face and identifies with their criticism of the systems that create injustice without actually doing anything to change the situation.

She urges her fellow youth “to learn how to take responsibility to change this reality instead”.

 

 

Meet Nadeema: Small Business Owners, and Believer in Peacebuilding through Entrepreneurship 

“Women can have a role in building peace through entrepreneurship through the exchange of experiences and generating trade opportunities with women from the other side of the conflict”.

USAID/WBG - Women History Month - Nadeema
Nadeema Baking

Nadeema, a mother and wife from Jerusalem, runs her own small business from home, making sweets and traditional Palestinian pastries and dishes, including Kibbeh. 

Nadeema believes that “women play an important role in improving the financial situation of their families, and their society’s general economy.” However, seed funding, tax fees and high rent are some of the overhead challenges that business women still face, not to mention the challenge of reaching clients!

Projects like USAID’s “Female Led Micro Business Development to Promote a Culture of Peace” offer business women like Nadeema a women-led support network to overcome some of those challenges, as well as provide the needed knowledge and skills to successfully run and expand their small businesses.

Through her business, Nadeema is able to increase her family’s income and improve their living conditions. She takes pride in her work, aiming to master her craft and success in her business. “I encourage women to take on business ventures that increase their self-realization and self-reliance.”

Last updated: October 03, 2022

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