Five Linkages to Empowering Women

Stereotypical gender roles are socially constructed, and just as easily as they are created they can be improved and changed as well. At times these roles are justified as requirement of culture or religion, however it is clear that over time and circumstance there are fluctuations and changes that occur no matter how incremental they may be. Members of The Women’s Group (TWG) increasingly understand this and recognize that the time has come for them to foster the change they want to see in the community; inclusion in the workforce, access to education, equal rights and so on. To aid them in this endeavor, TWG uses culturally sensitive approaches to campaign for women’s rights, respecting social norms while advancing the women’s agenda.

When reflecting on past sessions, the underlying theme we have placed consistent concentration on is women’s empowerment. We have brought in several specialists from local organizations to foster confidence and ambition in women from various viewpoints, including nutrition with the Union of Health Care Committees, family planning with the Palestinian Charitable Family Planning & Protection Association, literacy with Association of Women’s Committees for Social Work in Palestine, finance management with Consumer Protection Society, and volunteerism with An-Najah University. Guest speakers made the following five linkages between aforementioned topics and women’s empowerment:

  1. Ownership over Resources: Women are commonly in charge of securing food and water, as well as of overseeing family health and diet. Therefore, they tend to put into immediate practice lessons learned in seminars about nutrition, food processing and storage.
  2. Reproductive Health Awareness: Women are more vulnerable than men to reproductive health problems, but with the ability to control their own fertility is the fundamental step towards their empowerment and equality. When a woman can plan her family, she can plan all aspects of her life, which will give her greater time and freedom to participate more equally in society.
  3. Economic Involvement: Economic disparities persist because of people’s inclination to assume traditional gender roles, discrimination from employers, and women’s lack of confidence in their capabilities. With more skill trainings and seminars on capitalizing on their talents, women can be on their way to finding economic empowerment.
  4. Right to Education: There is an old saying – knowledge is power – and the more women understand that and reap the benefits of it, the more passionately they will instill it in the next generation.
  5. Community Consciousness and Investment: Nothing is guaranteed, especially the rights of women under governments. If women seek equality in basic legal and human rights, employment, and social and political participation then they must make themselves aware of channels and opportunities to be proactively involved in bringing that to fruition.

Women's empowerment is vital to sustainable development of the community in Nablus. The Women’s Group is working to help them make this realization and take their place in the community as knowledgeable, decisive and powerful change-makers.

-Samin Samin is the Program Coordinator for Women’s Empowerment Programs.