Women on the West Bank Fight Poverty with Enterprise
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Nearly a year after the war in Gaza, women in the West Bank are overcoming poverty by running their own co-operatives. With help and funding from several aid agencies, women have been able to set up their own small businesses providing training and marketing assistance to five cooperatives across the West Bank.
The most recent wave of fighting in Gaza ended on 18 January last year but it speeded up the decline of already serious humanitarian conditions. Palestinians in Gaza are still suffering and Israel has kept up its blockade allowing in only the barest essentials. Unemployment is at more than 40% – more than 120,000 people have lost their jobs since the beginning of the blockade. The economy is shrinking, and the chance to earn a decent living is simply not a realistic prospect for many. But on the outskirts of the city of Ramallah, Elham Sa’ah runs a small supermarket. With a loan from the Economic and Social Development Centre of Palestine and New Farm Company, along with input from aid agency, Oxfam and the UK’s Department for International Development, the cooperative has grown and now has more than 20 women working for it. Most of the women work part-time to earn extra income for their family. Some of their goods have been exported as far as Saudi Arabia and are sold in 50 supermarkets across the West Bank.