It’s time for The Women’s Group--Leave your problems at the door

As TYO interns, we not only work with the children of Nablus we also work with their mothers. In the mornings we teach for The Women’s Group, supplementing their seminars with classes that help improve their English, teach them how to use a computer, or give them a space to for a healthier lifestyle with fitness.In striving for the rights of women in places like Palestine, encouraging entrepreneurship among women is one focus. TYO tries to make an impact in this area through programs like WISE (Women’s Incubation Services for Entrepreneurs). However, there are many women that are not budding entrepreneurs that can also benefit from empowerment programming, and that’s where The Women’s Group comes in.

In a recent article about women entrepreneurship in the West Bank, issues such as lack of mobility and lack of access to jobs were raised as obstacles that go beyond the usual cultural explanations. Such issues impact the women we see at The Women’s Group just as they impact women entrepreneurs and Palestinian job seekers in general. Many of the women that come to TYO in the mornings see it as a time to leave their neighborhood and do something to better themselves while having fun. Lack of mobility in the West Bank means that it’s not just hard for people to commute to a job or expand the market for their product, it is also hard to visit family in the next city over or spend a weekend away from home. TYO provides a safe space for these women to explore their identities as individuals.

If asked to describe what impact The Women’s Group has, we would describe the excitement we see in the women while they learn hip-hop dance in aerobics class or their increasing confidence in English conversation or their pride in the PowerPoint slideshow they made during IT. Having the space to be themselves and leave their problems at the door is at least as important as any of the hard skills they may be developing.