LWF project opens new doors for Palestinian women

29-year-old Jihad Albaba, from the Am'ari Camp, repairs the wifi functionality of a mobile phone in a small shop in Ramallah, after graduating from studies in Telecommunication at the LWF vocational training center in Ramallah. The GRIT project aims to increase the number of Palestinian women in technical and other non-traditional professions, which often offer better paid jobs. Photo: LWF/Albin Hillert

LWF Jerusalem offers vocational training and economic empowerment

(LWI) - Increase women’s employment in the Palestinian Territories, and improve their access to technical and vocational training programs: A project in the Lutheran World Federation Jerusalem program seeks to empower women by supporting their economic independence.

"In the Palestinian Territories, unemployment is a main cause of poverty," says Suhad Kasbari, project manager at LWF. "Women have fewer opportunities than men to find employment, and the opportunities that do exist are difficult to access. This situation exacerbates existing economic and social barriers, compounding the challenges they already face. For women with disabilities, the situation is even more difficult."

In partnership with Canadian Lutheran World Relief (CLWR), the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Jerusalem program has recently launched a project to improve education, training, and employment opportunities for Palestinian women in non-traditional fields. The project, which is funded by the Canadian Government - Global Affairs Canada, will run for a total of five years.

"Normalize" women's employment

The new project, called GRIT (Gender-Responsive and Inclusive Technical and Vocational Education and Training), will improve women's access to technical and vocational training programs suited to their needs, interests, and market demands. It will support them to obtain relevant jobs and gain financial independence.

"GRIT will open new doors for these women, providing greater economic freedom and confidence within their families and communities," says Kasbari.

LWF has been running a successful vocational training program in Ramallah and Beit Hanina, Palestinian Territories, since 1949. Over the last decade, LWF has made a concerted effort to attract female students. Through a variety of measures, the initial target of 25 percent female graduates has been achieved.

GRIT now allows for an expansion of the existing programs and introduces new courses for women in various fields, including those typically attended by male students. This way, the project aims to normalize women's involvement in diverse roles within their communities.

Women's economic empowerment is central to realizing women's rights and gender equality. Economic empowerment includes women's ability to participate equally in the labor market, to access decent work, and have a voice and meaningful participation in economic decision-making, including household level. Empowering women in the economy is key to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Create a supportive environment for women

"This new initiative builds on LWF's experience providing vocational training in the West Bank, which CLWR has been a proud partner in for many years," says Karin Achtelstetter, executive director at CLWR. "Each year, we're inspired by the number of talented young people who graduate from the program and find work within their fields. By increasing the focus on women's education, GRIT will have a significant impact on hundreds of women who face barriers to education, employment, and equality.

"We know that the gender disparities in the labor force participation in the Palestinian Territories are linked to several factors. They are of economic, social and cultural nature, but also due to a lack of a supportive environment for women's entrepreneurship," says the LWF Regional Programme Coordinator for the Middle East, and World Service Gender Justice Focal Point, Caroline Tveoy.

"With this project, LWF offers non-traditional vocational and technical training to women. By offering non-traditional vocational and technical training and by partnering with a network of VTC and employers throughout the West Bank, LWF supports more gender-sensitive policies and practices in the region," Tveoy adds.

By Megan Redmond/ CLWR. Edited by LWF/ C. Kästner

LWF Jerusalem has provided vocational training or over 70 years. Its training centers focus on reaching Palestinian youth with limited opportunities due to precarious economic and social backgrounds, and disabilities. In the last decade, it has worked to increase the number of female students and female graduates in the training program. This has gone hand in hand with efforts to increase the number of professions accessible to women in the local market.

Canadian Lutheran World Relief is an international relief and development agency that challenges and responds to the injustice that causes human suffering and poverty. As an agency of Lutheran communities in Canada, Canadian Lutheran World Relief provides opportunities for Canadians to respond to national and international needs.