Palestinian women in rural areas face significant challenges such as gender discrimination in access to education, in participation in political and economic life, and in equal rights.
The lack of economic opportunities and limited access to employment increases the risk of poverty for women living in a rural setting in the West Bank (Palestine).
Sulaf Abbas, recounts how, as a result of the practices carried out in cooperatives, the degree of involvement of women cooperative members increased considerably and more local women came to participate in several of the training workshops.
“Carrying out these practices have helped me to be more committed and organized. The responsibilities and the experience acquired during my work in the Faqqoua cooperative gave me the confidence and security to later be able to carry out a job interview at the Jenin Hospital, during which the knowledge in accounting and finance that I had acquired during my studies was assessed work in the cooperative.”
Sulaf is one of the women who have participated in a project, financed by the Regional Government of Valencia, in which the Social Promotion Foundation, together with its local partner Rural Women’s Development Society (RWDS), has worked, for 21 months, to strengthen of seven women-led cooperatives, and improving career opportunities for young women from Al-Jalameh, Anza, Burqeen, Meithaloun, Deir Abu Deef, Faqqoua, and Jalboun in Jenin Governorate.
The project has been carried out despite the climate of insecurity and conflict in this area, which on many occasions can have a negative impact on the daily life of women, including limitations on movement and access to basic services.
Despite these difficulties, these agricultural cooperatives have improved their production capacities and their packaging and marketing techniques, and this has resulted in the substantial improvement of their products, the implementation of new dissemination techniques, and in the opening of new points of sale in the governorate.
With a view to strengthening the management and organizational skills of these cooperatives, the Women Cooperative Coalition (WCC) has been established under the project, an innovative structure in the West Bank through which a platform of agricultural cooperatives is established to represent the interests of these groups, improve the visibility of their work, and acquire greater bargaining power with local authorities, service providers, or department stores.
The intervention has also sought to offer new professional opportunities to young graduates, such as Sulaf, from the Jenin Governorate, which has the second highest unemployment rate in the West Bank.
During a 10-month interval, each of the seven cooperatives hosted an intern previously trained in cooperative management, accounting, and marketing.
These young graduates have done important work in improving the accounting, registration, inventory, and marketing processes of the production units. This opportunity has in turn provided valuable professional experience for these young women, three of whom found a permanent job at the end of their internships.