Thinking Global, Acting Local: TYO Participates in Global Entrepreneurship Week

Last week, the Thompson Reuters Foundation released results from its third annual gender survey of the Middle East- compiling the expertise and insight of specialists in women's rights to give a snapshot of gender equity in the region. Of the 22 Arab states surveyed, Palestine ranked 15th in terms of women's rights- with setbacks like high rates of domestic violence, a lack of reproductive rights, and early marriage causing this low status. Yet it also highlights a major factor that's causing Palestine to fall behind: only 17% of women are employed. But this week, TYO is proud to join over 50 other organizations in the country working to change that through Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW). GEW is an international event that takes place each November to inspire people through local, national, and global activities designed to help them explore their potential as self-starters and innovators. Bringing together creators and those who launch startups, GEW seeks to bring ideas to life, drive economic growth, and expand human welfare. While GEW first commenced six years ago, this is Palestine's first year of participation, and over 30 events have been organized throughout the country in the next seven days.

As a GEW partner, TYO is bringing attention to women's entrepreneurship and employment in Palestine through two events: a psychosocial training with our 22 FWEME entrepreneurs, and a discussion on economic development in the Middle East with Dr. Edward Sayre. These activities demonstrate the importance of TYO's holistic approach in terms of fostering entrepreneurship- while also highlighting the best practices and key economic data that helps inform our programs.

Here's a look at how the TYO office will be abuzz with GEW:

  • Psychosocial Training: 22 entrepreneurs from our FWEME project recently completed individual coaching sessions with business experts, where they received critical feedback and followup on their business plans that will help them move forward with their micro-enterprise. And this week, the entrepreneurs met with TYO's Psychosocial Program Manager for a different kind of coaching- one that works through some of the challenges or family issues they might have encountered during this part of the entrepreneurial process. This includes obstacles like husbands who discourage their wives or don't want them to travel alone- as well as internal fears of making mistakes or failures. The training helped women gain the communication skills- and the confidence- needed to overcome these barriers to building their business.


  • Economic Development Discussion: Alongside the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, TYO hosted Dr. Edward Sayre, an expert on economic development in the Middle East. Dr. Sayre shared his knowledge on micro-enterprises and youth employment in the region with TYO entrepreneurs and volunteers from our Youth Service Learning Program. His talk highlights the importance of youth and women's engagement in the workforce- but further, allows the future leaders of Palestine the chance to gain critical knowledge of both their country- and their region's- economic status.

Dr. Sayre discusses SMEs with the entrepreneurs.

So while it's just seven days, the energy and creative spirit fostered during Global Entrepreneurship Week is certain to bring change and influence for years to come- and most importantly, bring women's economic participation levels far above that 17% number.

- Cayce Pack is the Women's Empowerment Coordinator at Tomorrow's Youth Organization.