Palestine: Vocational Training for women 

20 Sep 2022

Economic independence is key to women’s empowerment. The LWF Gender Responsive and Inclusive Technical and Vocational Education and Training (GRIT) project in Palestine gives women the skills to open a business and market their produce.

GRIT project Jerusalem

Students in the sweets training workshop. Photo: LWF Jerusalem

Self-esteem and economic independence

(LWI) - The empowerment of women is closely linked to economic independence. An LWF project in the Palestinian Territories therefore puts a focus on providing vocational training for women, including women with disabilities.  

By improving access to technical and vocational training programs, the project enables women and girls to participate in the labor market and enhance their status in their communities. In some cases, it even helps women to leave abusive relationships.

GRIT project Jerusalem

The GRIT project seeks to engage women invocational training. Photo: LWF Jerusalem

More financial independence 

Amal Mohammed (name changed) is a successful sweets manufacturer, selling her products in the Palestinian market. A few years ago, however, she would not have imagined herself capable of running her own business. Amal grew up in an abusive household and suffered domestic violence for a long time. She recalls feeling hopeless and having low self-esteem.  

Through a friend, who is a social activist, Amal heard about the training project. She decided to enroll at the Episcopal Technical and Vocational Training Center in the Ramallah Governorate and to specialize in the preparation of various kinds of sweets. Amal has always had a passion for cooking, and it was natural for her to pursue this. The training equipped her with the technical skills to master sweets production and enabled her to successfully market her products.  

Vocational training is not very popular with young people in Palestine. More than 90% of the students who finish secondary school pursue an academic career – even if they have no aptitude for academia. Young people are expected to obtain a university degree. Vocational training is stigmatized as the last option for dropouts.  

Through the GRIT project, LWF is trying to change that opinion by providing quality vocational training in its centers in Ramallah and Beit Hanina, and by supporting other vocational centers in the West Bank. Every year, students successfully graduate, and most of them quickly find employment or found their own business. 

GRIT project Jerusalem

The professions taught also include jobs which in Palestine are traditionally associated with men. Photo: LWF Jerusalem 

Make their own decisions 

For young women, having this kind of independence is not always supported by the family. Amal’s husband was initially opposed to the training. It meant a shift in their relationship. The added income finally convinced him, Amal says. “We now work together – he helps me – and our economic situation has improved. I can meet my own needs and provide for our family as well.” 

The young woman is selling her sweets in the market, and has created a website to advertise her products – skills which she obtained thanks to the GRIT project. For Amal, life has changed from “being seen as only a victim”, to a self-assured businesswoman. “I make my own decisions now,” she says. She encourages other women and girls to pursue this way of tertiary education. “I’ve become more financially able and independent from my family. I have a stable source of income, which makes me feel safe.” 

I’ve become more financially able and independent from my family. I have a stable source of income, which makes me feel safe. – Amal MOHAMMED, GRIT participant

The GRIT project is realized in partnership with Representative Office of Canada to the Palestinian Authority Canada’s International Development – Global Affairs Canada Canadian Lutheran World Relief. The project is implemented through nine technical and vocational education and training institutes throughout East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Learn more by following GRIT on Facebook @GRITproj. 

This story was first published in This Week in Palestine

LWF/S. Hoso. Edited by LWF/ C. Kästner-Meyer