Vocational training

Palestine: Vocational training for women

Self-esteem and economic independence

(LWI) – Women’s empowerment is closely linked to economic independence. An LWF project in the Palestinian Territories therefore focuses on vocational training for women, including women with disabilities.

By improving access to technical and vocational training programs, the project enables women and girls to participate in the labor market and improve their status in their communities. In some cases, it even helps women leave an abusive relationship.

More financial independence

Amal Mohammed (name changed) is a successful confectionery manufacturer who sells her products in the Palestinian market. A few years ago, however, she wouldn’t have imagined herself capable of running her own business. Amal grew up in an abusive home and suffered from domestic violence for a long time. She remembers feeling hopeless and having low self-esteem.

Through a friend, who is a social activist, Amal heard about the training project. She decides to enroll in the Episcopal Center for Technical and Vocational Training in the governorate of Ramallah and to specialize in the preparation of different kinds of sweets. Amal has always had a passion for cooking, and it was natural for her to pursue that. The training provided her with the technical skills to master the production of confectionery and enabled her to successfully market her products.

The GRIT project seeks to engage women in vocational training. Photo: LWF Jerusalem

Vocational training is not very popular with young people in Palestine. More than 90% of students who graduate from high school pursue an academic career – even if they have no academic aptitude. Young people are supposed to get a university degree. Vocational training is stigmatized as the last option for dropouts.

Through the GRIT project, the LWF is trying to change this view by providing quality vocational training at its centers in Ramallah and Beit Hanina, and by supporting other vocational centers in the West Bank. Every year, students graduate and most of them quickly find jobs or start their own businesses.

The professions taught also include traditionally male jobs in Palestine. Photo: LWF Jerusalem

Make your own decisions

For young women, having that kind of independence isn’t always supported by family. Amal’s husband was initially opposed to the training. It meant a change in their relationship. The extra income finally convinced him, says Amal. “We are now working together – he helps me – and our economic situation has improved. I can support myself and support our family as well.

I became more financially capable and independent of my family. I have a stable source of income, which reassures me.

Amal MOHAMMED, GRIT participant

The young woman sells her sweets on the market, and has created a website to advertise her products – a know-how she acquired thanks to the GRIT project. For Amal, life has changed from “being seen only as a victim” to a confident businesswoman. “I make my own decisions now,” she says. She encourages other women and girls to pursue this path to higher education. “I have become more financially capable and independent from my family. I have a stable source of income, which makes me feel secure.

The GRIT project is carried out in partnership with the Canadian Representative Office to the Palestinian Authority International Development of Canada – Global Affairs Canada Canadian Lutheran World Relief. The project is implemented through nine technical and vocational education and training institutes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Learn more by following GRIT on Facebook @GRITproj.

This story was first published in This week in Palestine.

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