The Women’s Group: Professor Nuha Shaer

As The Women's Group (TWG) enters week seven of TYO's fall session, our local partners have established strong relationships with the women attending the seminars. The response of the women to nascent program has been incredibly positive, as reflected in midterm debriefings with the group. Several women specifically expressed their extreme gratitude for the seminars with Nuha Shaer, professor of social work at An-Najah University.

61 percent of the West Bank’s two million residents are under 24 years of age, so it is inevitable that women in the program identified healthy development of vulnerable adolescents in the home and community as a primary need. In a recent seminar on parenting adolescents, Professor Shaer opened the floor for women to share troubles they are facing with their growing children; the most common included lack of communication, carelessness towards education, and involvement with older, negative influences. After each scenario was presented, Professor Shaer asked two women to reenact a performance of the situation that was just related. Using role-play she let the women reevaluate the situation as outsiders looking in, while also allowing the women who contributed their stories to step back and realize how and why things could have been handled differently. Incorporating drama into what otherwise might be a rather tense or resisted activity - as sharing personal anecdotes regarding family is often met with caution and hesitation - allowed women to open up and discuss their issues more freely, and truly reflect on how to tackle problems with their adolescents with more care after seeing them replayed.

One participant of TWG, Aroob Abu Shloof, stated:

“I am very grateful to TYO for offering me new programs that I was in need of. I feel a great change in my mental and physical health, and this is being positively reflected at home with my family”.

Professor Shaer reported that she has already began seeing changes in women’s attitudes – more confidence and self-worth, proactivity, and positivity – but feels far from finished with her investment in the women. She has tackled topics in time-management, stress and anxiety, abuse (emotional, physical and emotional), and looks forward to offering seminars next session that she hopes will render even greater change in the women’s personal, social and domestic lives.

TYO thanks Professor Shaer for the passion and certitude with which she is approaching The Women’s Group seminars, and look forward to a continued partnership with her and An-Najah University.