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Source: European Union (EU)
26 November 2013

Jerusalem, 26 November 2013

***For immediate release***

With the assistance of the European Union, the Agricultural Development Association (PARC)
opens two new income generating projects for women's Saving & Credit Groups (SCG) in Jerusalem

Under the auspices of H.E. the Governor of Jerusalem Eng. Adnan Husseini, the Agricultural Development Association (PARC), the European Union representatives, Oxfam, and a group of dignitaries celebrated the establishment and opening of a women's club at Essayieh, and a Tailoring Workshop in the Old City of Jerusalem. These initiatives are part of a three-year project, "Protect the Rights and Improve the Resilience of Vulnerable communities in East Jerusalem", funded by the European Union, with additional funding from Oxfam.

The 3.5 million Euro project seeks to strengthen the work of Palestinian civil society, address the Israeli governmental violations causing poverty and displacement, and improve living conditions for 30,000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem. Using a rights-based approach, the project helps to improve people's living conditions by rehabilitating schools and creating better education opportunities for students; helping communities respond to threats and emergencies through first aid training; working to address environmental concerns and health hazards through the establishment of environmental clubs; and helping to strengthen family ties through positive parenting workshops. The project also offers legal aid and counseling to Palestinian women made vulnerable as a result of social and political issues such as gender-based violence, home demolitions and the risk of being separated from their children living in East Jerusalem due to their inability to obtain residency.

To improve the income of some of the most impoverished residents, the project is helping women to establish savings and credit groups, and also provides some of them with sub-grants to start income generating projects. The Agricultural Development Association (PARC) is implementing this project in partnership with the Women's Centre for Legal Aid and Counseling (WCLAC), Juzoor for Health and Social Development, The Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS), and the Coalition for Jerusalem represented by the Palestinian Counseling Centre (PCC). The communities where the project activities are taking place include Silwan, Essayieh, Sur Baher, Wadi Al Joz and the Old City.

Mr Maher Sahlieh, PARC Representative, said: "Today's opening ceremony comes as PARC celebrates its thirtieth anniversary. PARC pledges in its strategic plan for the years 2013 -2017 to continue its role and contribution towards the building of a stronger Palestinian civil society. PARC takes into consideration the rising complexities and restrictions, including the local and global economic crisis and the escalation of Israeli policies that are further contributing to the deterioration of Palestinian's quality of life. In particular, this deterioration is taking place in Jerusalem, where Palestinians increasingly suffer from high poverty rates, the risk of displacement due to home demolition orders, and residency revocations that deny them the right to live in their city. PARC considers this project one of its most important ongoing projects, as it provided us with this great support to strengthen our presence in Jerusalem, and to open our offices here again, so we can better provide for Palestinians in East Jerusalem."

EU Representative Mr John Gatt-Rutter said: "Palestinians living in East Jerusalem are entitled to a life with equitable access to resources and the opportunity to engage in different social, economic and cultural activities in their city. The European Union has developed a dedicated programme of support for East Jerusalem with an annual investment of EUR 8 million for the last three years. Today we mark the beginning of a series of income generating projects in the framework of our larger project with Oxfam which targets the most vulnerable communities in this city. This support is a direct response to the high unemployment levels in East Jerusalem and the limited job opportunities in particular for women."

Marta Lorenzo-Rodriguez, Oxfam's Associate Country Director, said: "Women and girls are among the most vulnerable sections of our society, as their life and status are affected by both the occupation and a patriarchal society. Around 85% of women living in East Jerusalem are unemployed. We must find ways to ensure that these women can gain economic independence and provide for themselves, their families and their children's futures. As well as struggling to provide their children with sufficient food, healthcare and proper education, they also struggle to pay legal costs to attempt to gain residency and delay the demolition of their homes."

The economic situation for Palestinians in East Jerusalem has been adversely affected by movement restrictions and the Israeli government's construction of the Wall, leaving Palestinians with scarce job opportunities and limited income. The cost of living in East Jerusalem is higher than the rest of the West Bank; likewise the unemployment rate in East Jerusalem has risen to 40% for men and 85% for women, compared to 17% and 29.5% respectively in the West Bank. Amid rising poverty rates, the limited employment opportunities for women require high credentials, strong skills and vast experience. Hence the project is working to strengthen the skills of a number of women, to prepare them for the job force, as well as empower them to create their own small income generating businesses. As a first step to enable women to finance their projects, PARC helped establish savings and credit groups (SCGs) and a tailoring workshop in East Jerusalem. In order to better overcome the constraints on women in East Jerusalem and to make better use of their opportunities, the project sponsored a marketing feasibility study that helped empower women to take control, make use of their abilities, and to establish profitable businesses. These women aim to produce these businesses so they are able to provide sufficient financial support for themselves, their families and children.

Within this project PARC rehabilitated and restored a house in Essayieh for the use of a Women's Club, and in addition helped establish a beauty centre there for members of the Savings and Credit Women Group (SCG) in that community. PARC also provided the women's group with logistical support, equipment and tools, as well as the necessary technical trainings.

Additionally, PARC helped the establishment and equipment of a tailoring workshop for women members of the SCG in the Old City, at the premises of the African Community Association, which was recently rehabilitated through the Welfare Association. The women's group there was provided with sewing machines, and the necessary materials, as well as sewing courses so they can produce garments and other products as they choose.

A new saving and credit group (SCG) was also established in Sur Baher where a group of women was provided with logistical support, culinary equipment and tools to create a food production workshop where women can produce pastries, desserts and cakes. The group of women in Sur Baher received cookery classes and other training for the management of their micro project.

In Silwan, in efforts to protect a piece of land from confiscation by the Israeli government, and to make proper use of the land, PARC helped rehabilitate the plot for cultivation by a women's saving and credit group in the Silwan community. The group of women there received seeds and seedlings and started to grow medicinal herbs in hopes of marketing their produce and generating some income.

For more information about this project please contact:

Mr. Khalil Shiha, PARC's General Director: khalil@pal-arc.org or 972 (0)59 9080002 or 972 (0)52 2619992

The content of this publication are the sole responsibility of PARC, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union and Oxfam.

doclink: http://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/westbank/documents/news/2013/20131126_parc_event_press_release_en.pdf


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