7 February 2012
Under-resourced, overcrowded, and stretched to its limits, the Gaza Strip has few opportunities for youth. Since the start of the Israeli blockade, unemployment has soared in the territory, and young people are trying to find work at a time when almost half the population is unemployed. In particular, young women face unique social barriers, and are more likely to be unemployed.
To help provide opportunities for girls and young women in Gaza, UNRWA has partnered with the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) to offer rare on-the-job placements. During their school break, young refugee women shadow professionals for one week, in fields such as primary health care, human resources, and emergency preparedness. The programme complements their formal instruction at school while providing refugee students with an opportunity to serve their own communities.
“The experience was very useful to me, because I got the opportunity to learn new skills,” said 16-year-old Sajeda from Beit Hanoun. “The most interesting work was assisting with arrangements for psychological counselling workshops.”
“Working as a member of the emergency and first aid team made me recognise how important it is to stay focused and prepared in times of crisis,” said 15-year-old Karoline from Al-Shajaeya. “It also helped me improve my personality and work ethics.”
The partnership with PRCS is part of an educational support project launched in 2011 by UNRWA’s Gender Initiative in Gaza. Complementing formal education with additional support in areas such as Arabic, English, mathematics and science, the project has reached out to more than 3000 girls and young women across the Gaza Strip. Funded by the Bizcaia Regional Council in Spain, the project has already demonstrated success at improving grades among its participants.
Seventeen-year-old Abeer from Deir El-Balah was grateful for the opportunity. “It allowed me to work as an assistant to a children’s doctor, who taught me how to measure a child’s weight and fever, and to prepare clients for medical tests,” she said. “My dream now is to study medicine and to keep coming to the PRCS clinic to practise the skills I learned.”
View the UNRWA photo gallery: “Documenting Women’s Lives in the Gaza Strip”