Scores of refugee women and girls across Gaza took part in a campaign about the importance of education earlier this month, as part of UNRWA’s efforts to reduce gender inequality in education.
Community-based organisations across the blockaded enclave ran role plays, theatre and outreach activities for female pupils and their mothers.
One participant, Nisreen Abu Amra (35), said: “It is very important to organise an educational campaign in Gaza that promotes women’s right to education. Through these activities, I believe that many mothers will change the way they perceive of certain practices that are an obstacle to their daughters’ education, such as early marriage.”
The women were able to learn new skills while also showing the world their motivation to improve the circumstances in which they live, and how they see education as a tool to achieve this.
With more than half the population aged under 18, Gaza’s education system is stretched to its limits. Women and girls are particularly badly affected, and their education is often hampered by these difficult circumstances.
This is compounded by the ongoing conflict and blockade, which has decimated Gaza’s economy. Socio-economic conditions continue to worsen, with unemployment rates highest among young women.
UNRWA’s gender initiative (equality in action) in Gaza has launched two new projects to address these challenges. Its educational support units provide female students with additional support to ensure they can embrace the opportunities available to them. The units target the most marginalised and remote areas.
Participants receive support in core subjects such as mathematics, Arabic, English and science along with counselling. The project also offers educational counselling to parents and does outreach on the importance of educating their girls.
One mother said: “I know that our children need a lot of support, especially when we are talking about the more difficult levels. I can teach my youngest children but I do not understand the subjects above grade 4, so we need help and support. Now, we get this from the UNRWA project, which provides free support classes to my daughters.”
Another project, the young women leaders programme, works with young women to give them the skills needed for the labour market. It also fosters a sense of leadership, giving them the courage to be active citizens who are able to contribute to improving the situation in Gaza.
The programme’s 200 female graduate participants receive training and skills complementing their university education.
The events were part of the Global Campaign for Education’s (GCE) Global Action Week. GCE is a civil society movement that aims to end the global education crisis. This year’s campaign focused on the value of investing in educating girls and women as a means of educating society as a whole.
More about the Gaza Strip emergency
More details on the campaign’s activities in the occupied Palestinian territory