In the West Bank, Palestine refugee women are taking advantage of UNRWA’s Job Creation Programme (JCP) to develop their professional and personal lives.
Established in 2010, the Araqa initiative in the West Bank encourages the development of sustainable livelihoods for Palestine refugee women, while preserving Palestinian Art and Heritage. Through a network of women’s centres, the collective works on modernized Tatreez, traditional Palestinian cross-stitch embroidery, soap production and jewellery-making.
“Here, Palestinian women are not only learning new skills, they are also improving their self-esteem and participating in the community, where they are the drivers of their development”, said Araqa Initiative Project Manager Norma Danial.
Mariam, an employee at one of the women’s centres benefited from this initiative greatly, and is looking forward to the centre’s efforts to expand: “Having successfully marketed our products locally, our focus in 2013 will be to establishing ourselves independently and engaging in partnerships that will allow us to export our products internationally”.
UNRWA recently organised an embroidery bazar in the city of Nazareth to showcase the group’s talent.
Alleviating poverty, one project at a time
Within the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), a system of closures, access restrictions on the movement of people and goods, as well as the on-going violence, have had a detrimental effect on the economy, perpetuating low income levels, impeding opportunities for economic mobility, and hindering a move from relief to development assistance. At present, 22.9 per cent of the workforce in the oPt is unemployed; 32.2 per cent in Gaza and 18.3 per cent in the West Bank.
Developing Palestine refugee skills
UNRWA’s JCP works to alleviate poverty while contributing to economic recovery. In 2010, the Agency provided employment opportunities for 88,868 Palestine refugees in the oPt, contributing more than US$ 80 million to the local economy
As a result, unemployment amongst registered refugees in the oPt was reduced by 5.39 per cent to 29.45 per cent. In Gaza, unemployment went down 5.71 per cent to 37.44 per cent, and in the West Bank, 5.01 per cent to 19.89 per cent.
While provide tangible results in both reducing rates of unemployment and stimulating the local economy, JCP has also helped to break down gender barriers to employment opportunity by enabling women to work outside of the traditional service and agricultural sectors, which has often translated into more sustainable forms of income generation.
This year, through UNRWA’s Emergency Appeal for the oPt, JCP aims to create approximately 122,113 cash-for-work opportunities that cover unskilled, skilled and professional positions, with a total budget of US$ 105,535,949.