A New Year for Women's Empowerment: Looking Back, Moving Forward
As the world rings in the new year, we’re excited and expectant for all that is to come in 2014- yet we’re also taking time to celebrate and contemplate some of the major achievements, opportunities, and challenges for women’s rights this year both around the world- and right here in Palestine. You might've seen some of the excellent reviews of this year's gender equality news- from this UN Women timeline of major strides made in women's empowerment to The Guardian's analysis of girls' rights this year. Whether it's Malala's inspiring speech at the United Nations, activism in Saudi Arabia for women's rights to drive, the release of an international road-map to gender equity in the Millennium Development Goals, or great commercials calling for better media representation of girls, there's much to applaud- as well as areas for improvement.
But in addition to these great global events, there's also plenty of women's achievements in Palestine- and within the walls of TYO- worth commemorating. Take a look at some of the best snapshots from our most recent session here to see some of the highlights- but take a moment below to read about some of the top moments for us throughout 2013.
- Entrepreneurship: As we finalized our WISE Program and went full-speed on our FWEME Project, our year has been buzzing with women's economic empowerment activities. We've trained 36 entrepreneurs with a holistic, intensive week-long course on start-ups; provided individual coaching and business plan refinement to 22 entrepreneurs; and prepared to incubate 10 of those outstanding enterprises. In addition to trainings, we've also watched some of our star entrepreneurs participate in a number of stellar opportunities both in Palestine and abroad- such as Sahar Dwaikat's trips to the United States with the U.S. Department of State and Telos Group, Sahar and Ayat's journey to Dubai with Vital Voices and Bank of America, and three entrepreneurs' selection to show their goods in the U.S. Consulate's Christmas Bazaar.
- The Women's Group: With each session of The Women's Group, we cover similar topics that focus on themes like resilience and identity- and key moments from this year include our new ways of communicating these major themes through innovative partners like Right to Play or experiential activities for International Women's Day and International Day of the Girl. But to make sure the exciting lessons learned in 2013 carry into the coming year, we wrapped up this latest session by encouraging women to reflect on their own "top moments" at TYO and brainstorm ways that they can continue the drive for change and empowerment they felt in our classrooms. Whether it's a pledge to seek out breast cancer screenings or a promise to protect their daughters from early marriage, we're proud of the goals set- and excited to continue progress in 2014.
We know that Palestine has a long road ahead in terms of women's rights, and 2013 wasn't without it's major pitfalls for women's empowerment in the country. Yet we're glad to keep the momentum from this year going strong into 2014- and look very forward to what can be accomplished in the upcoming twelve months.
-Cayce is the Women's Empowerment Program Coordinator at TYO.