Women Entrepreneurs in the Occupied Palestinian Territories

 West Bank and Gaza
 Economic Development
 23rd Jul 2018

Written By: Vangi Dora, CARE International

Photo Credit: Arouri/CARE

Afaf, 48 years old with two of her children, the 28 year old Shereen and the 23 year old Murad; and her husband Ghassan, who is 58 years old. Her husband used to work in Israel but as a result of the protracted crisis, one day he was told he is no longer permitted to go to there. They started working as a family growing baby cucumber. Afaf was the first farmer and woman to grow baby cucumber in the West Bank. She is now recruiting her own staff to help the business grow.

“I want to advise all women I know to start their own business and be independent. Work is not a crime or a shame. It’s a human right. And the only thing I have to say to those who claim it is hard to start a business if you are woman, is that all these difficulties made me stronger. I want to thank CARE for helping me develop and learn more. Now my children do not have to work with me and I can pay the fees for their University.”

Her business plan is to start investing in growing pumpkins as she now sees that more farmers are focusing on growing baby cucumber. Her biggest dream is to hire and support many women in the region who want to work but they didn’t have an opportunity until now.

Throughout the years, CARE has implemented a series of projects in the occupied Palestinian territory of West Bank and Gaza always placing women and girls in the center of its programming. Through “Soqouna”, CARE, funded by the Australian Government, is aiming to improve the income of more than 13,000 farmers, from which 42% are women. By helping Palestinian farmers to have “safer” vegetables and by facilitating their connection to local markets, CARE is helping to bolster the Palestinian economy, while also directly supporting people like Afaf to improve their life and build resilient livelihoods.

Fa’eda, a 42 year old mother of four children, lives in Kardala in the North of West Bank in Palestine.

“I have known CARE since 2006. It was the first organization who brought us in contact with the Ministry of Agriculture and organized workshops for us. CARE taught me how to use fertilizers and pesticides of better quality, how to have what we now call “safe products”. Now, the biggest challenge for me and for many women here is making the next step to develop our small business. We want to sell our products, to have access to the market. I hope I will manage to achieve this though CARE’s new program Soqouna. After all, the reason why I want to achieve all that is to be able to support my children to go to the University and have a better life”.

When social structures and power dynamics are disrupted, women often find their voices heard for the first time in their lives. According to Fa’eda that’s the case for many Palestinian women in the West Bank and Gaza. Fa’eda’s eggplants have already been tested and at the moment CARE is facilitating the provision of the approval certification which will allow her to sell her products to a higher price and will attract potential companies from the private sector.

With funding from the Australian government and through the program “Soqouna”, which means “Our Market” in Arabic, CARE is helping more than 5,000 farmers and breeders to improve their productivity; have “safer” products in terms of pesticide use; and to facilitate their connection to local markets, boosting both the families’ income and the Palestinian economy in general.

Nisreen, is a 39 year old woman who lives in Bardala, a small village in the North of the Jordan Valley in West Bank. She is the breeder of fifty sheep and goats and - according to the locals – “the best of the Jordan Valley when it comes to producing homemade white cheese”. Before taking part in the “Soqouna” program, white cheese was the main source of income for the family. However, with the small processing capacity in their house in Bardala, the profit was not sufficient for Nisreen, her husband, her mother and her aunt in law who share the same roof. Now, through CARE’s project their income is rising.

“First of all CARE is supporting us with vaccination and food for the sheep. This means that our sheep and goats are healthier and we can produce double the quantity of milk in less time. In the past, we used to gather 10l of milk per day, while now we can collect 20l of milk in only two hours! But the most important thing is that now we can sell it to the local Milk Collection Hub and we do not need to worry about producing white cheese, a very tiring and time consuming process”.

With funding from the Australian government and through the program “Soqouna”, which means “Our Market” in Arabic, CARE is helping more than 13,000 farmers and breeders to improve their productivity; have “safer” products in terms of pesticide use; and to facilitate their connection to local markets, boosting both the families’ income and the Palestinian economy in general.

 

Learn more about CARE's work in the West Bank and Gaza.

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