MA’AN’s Women’s Development Program aims to empower Palestinian women in the context of the continual hardship brought by occupation and equip them to succeed in the extraordinary and multiple roles that are often demanded of them. This program aims to emphasis equality and contribute to a more equal society for women.
Challenges faced by the sector
Historically, Palestinian women have been largely responsible for ensuring the domestic wellbeing of their families. However, imprisonment and exile of husbands and sons has meant that many families and communities suffer from a frequent absence of male wage earners and community leaders. In such circumstances women have often emerged to take up new roles in communities and central positions in decision-making processes. In Palestine as a whole, few women participate in the official labor market but many women, especially in rural areas, often work unofficially or their labor is not recognized because it largely takes place in the home and is unpaid. However almost 65% of agricultural work is done by women as part of their household duties and women often carry out a significant amount of unpaid work in rural areas.
MA’AN understands that there are constraints that block women’s equal participation in the development process. These obstacles include a lack of social services, lack of training, low self-esteem, lack of technology and a lack of information, in addition to social and cultural constraints. Women are also not offered enough assistance, training, or rehabilitation to allow an exit from poverty or to meet the needs of their families. Despite the onset of female participation in social, political and economic fields, there is a lack of female leaders, policy makers and decision-makers. They are largely absent from senior positions in key political and economic institutions that shape their access and control over resources. Their marginalization from obtaining real power has further increased as a result of the unstable political situation.
Goals and development objectives of the program
MA’AN believes women should play a central leadership role in Palestinian society. It works to empower women as agents of change and to increase their participation as leaders and wage earners at household, community and national levels. MA’AN’s activities target women as primary stakeholders and encourage female participation in all phases of our programs.
In addition, MA’AN is committed to supporting women’s role in society through promoting their participation in its development projects. During project planning, implementation and evaluation, processes are applied that reaffirm the principles of gender quality. Through the application of this approach, the Women’s Development Program pursues the following fundamental goals:
- Developing women’s leadership
- Strengthening women’s organizations
- Supporting women’s rights, equality and equity.
- Creating political and economic opportunities
By applying these objectives, MA’AN continues to work with women’s organizations in order to ensure that they are active participants in development. MA’AN is assisting in the development and establishment of women’s centers and offers training courses in career development, computer skills and specialized English. In addition MA’AN has assisted in training courses in food processing, home gardening, organic agriculture as well as in skills such as knitting, sewing machine maintenance, interior design, upgrading skills for dental assistants, and DIY. Projects are also aimed at developing women’s abilities to be more active and professional in their jobs and enhance women’s centers’ institutional structures, systems, networking, infrastructure and entrepreneurial development for poor and most marginalized groups to start their own enterprises using the methodology of Competency-based Economies through Formation of Enterprise (CEFE).
In addition, MA’AN works to advocate for the rights of all women in Palestinian society and to improve their situation, representation and status in society.