UNRWA’s Young Women Leaders Programme participants better prepared for employment and facing violence

03 December 2018
A group of graduates performing in a theatre show during the graduation ceremony of the Young Women Leaders Programme at Al-Shalehat Resort, Gaza. © 2018 UNRWA Photo by Mohammed Al-Henawi

On 28 November 2018, the UNRWA Gender Initiative (GI) celebrated the graduation of 108 young women who participated in a 7.5-month training organized by the Young Women Leaders Programme (YWLP) and generously supported by the Big Heart Foundation. The training, which also included an internship period, focused on enhancing the graduates’ professional and leadership skills to improve their chances in the local job market, promote their role in local communities, and enhance their understanding of, and ability to respond to, gender-based violence.

The graduation ceremony was attended by UNRWA senior staff, representatives of Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) and other partners, as well as international and local non-governmental organizations, and the families of the graduates.

The ceremony included a number of performances like expressive dancing, singing and acting that addressed challenges young women are facing in the Gaza Strip.

“Through the various trainings of the YWLP, I understand now much better how women can face violence and claim their rights in the workplace. The training was also an excellent opportunity for me to improve my computer and communication skills, as well as increase my self-confidence,” said 24 year-old Nadia Khalifa.

The Young Women Leaders Programme (YWLP) aims to enhance the skills of young female graduates and to improve their access to and opportunities in the labour market, fostering knowledge and skills gained at university which will benefit participants in the job market, their community, and in their homes. The programme provides training and practical work experience opportunities for young women.

The YWLP’s training covered a range of skills such as decision-making, leadership, self-confidence, job application, marketing, project-cycle management, English and Computer. The graduates also had the chance to gain a better understanding of gender-based violence (GBV) during five awareness-raising discussion groups. In addition, they had the chance during work placements to practice and enhance relevant transferable skills and improve their self-confidence and while gaining practical experience in different sectors, thereby increasing their employability and supporting private sector development in the Gaza Strip.

Addressing the graduates and guests at the ceremony, UNRWA Gender Initiative officer, Ms. Najwa Lubbad, highlighted that the programme works towards ensuring that young women can build their skills and potential, and serves “to promote equal opportunities for women in Gaza.” She also thanked the Big Heart Foundation for its generous support to the GI programme, and local partner NGOs, CBOs and companies for their engagement with the initiative.

A group photo of the graduates who participated in YWLP graduation ceremony at Al-Shalehat Resort, Gaza. © 2018 UNRWA Photo by Mohammed Al-Henawi
A group photo of the graduates who participated in YWLP graduation ceremony at Al-Shalehat Resort, Gaza. © 2018 UNRWA Photo by Mohammed Al-Henawi

“When I graduated from university, I realized that I, like many other graduates, don’t have enough practical experience to compete and succeed in the labour market. This training programme equipped us with the necessary leadership and life skills to be pioneers in our society. I feel now much more optimistic about the future,” said Ghadir Al-Bohisi in her graduation speech.

Through the YWLP, the GI tries to mitigate the impact of extremely high unemployment rates in Gaza, especially among youth and women. Over twelve years of blockade and recurrent conflicts have suffocated the enclave’s economy and its capacity to create jobs, and Gaza’s socially conservative and male-dominated society makes it especially difficult for women to find jobs. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the average unemployment rate for women stood at 57.0 per cent in Q2/2018.