The Women's Group Celebrates International Women’s Day

The true plight of women around the world often goes unnoticed because regardless of their conditions they are expected to be helpless victims and also the glue holding together the foundations of their society. In their adversity, Palestinian women are left to endure the struggles of the occupation in all avenues of their life – domestically, economically, in terms of mobility, and socially. However, a number of them are refusing to remain passive, instead finding strength in gender‐related survival strategies; such as participation in The Women’s Group (TWG) and Fostering Women Entrepreneurs programs at Tomorrow’s Youth Organization (TYO). Because media coverage is at times biased, there are often many distortions and misrepresentations of the reality on the ground. In actuality, in Palestine, in the interest of maintaining some semblance of normality, women are increasingly grasping the importance of education, playing active roles in the economy, and maintaining the social fabric of their society through entrepreneurial and social welfare projects.

TYO recognizes the central role of women in the family and potential leadership of community change, and therefore has designed programs in order to encourage rather than stifle women to step up to the challenge. The Fostering Women Entrepreneurs programs in Nablus and Lebanon work in cooperation with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women. These programs increase women’s participation as an integral part of the labor force and promoting economic empowerment by offering tailor-made programs and services to increase participants’ business and practical skills and self-confidence. TYO’s approach adapts participants’ niches to design business plans that reflect international expertise and market research to ensure their competitiveness in the regional (and potentially global) market.

Additionally, basic knowledge that is neglected about health and child development, combined with self-confidence and other life skills, represents huge value added for women, their children and families. Thus, TWG was established to meet these needs; to offer seminars on health, domestic violence, parenting & children’s needs, education & literacy, and women’s empowerment. Women are provided a safe space and platform to candidly discuss their thoughts and concerns, while getting the opportunity to become learned in practical skills and local resources that are available to assist them in adopting habits that help them yield a better quality of life.

Women’s programming at TYO strives to help women realize their worth and the instrumental role they play in creating positive differences for themselves, their families and greater community. When given the power to empower, we are witness to the fact that women play an impactful role. Therefore, if more Palestinian women are empowered to break through cultural and societal norms they could serve as ideal role models for the youth (which accounts for over 50 per cent of the population in the Occupied Territories). It is not to say that women’s active involvement and contribution does not already exist. There are certainly many Palestinian female trailblazers - like novelist Sahar Khalifeh, racecar driving “Speed Sisters”, and Mayor of Ramallah Janet Mikhail to name a few - who have paved the way for others to follow. However, their recognition is shaded out by a patriarchal culture and headlines that yield higher newspaper sales internationally. If greater tools are made available to help women counter such prejudices locally and internationally, together their collaborative strength can reach boundless measures.

This International Women’s Day TYO hopes to have leaped several steps closer to reach that goal with the hosting of two events on Wednesday, March 7 and Thursday, March 8. To celebrate, TYO had guest speakers from An-Najah University, The Multi-Purpose Resource Center and Palestinian Center for Democracy and Conflict Resolution. Singing, dancing and refreshments followed. From our women to your women, we send you the warmest and sincerest wishes for a happy International Women’s Day!