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Source: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
7 September 2016


07 September 2016

On 30 August the UNRWA Gender Initiative (GI) organized a graduation ceremony for 300 young female graduates who participated in three-month training under the Young Women Leaders Programme (YWLP).

The graduation ceremony was attended by UNRWA senior staff and donor representatives from the Government of Norway, as well as representatives of partner Community-Based Organizations (CBOs), the private sector, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and others.

During the ceremony, the graduates delivered a number of performances including traditional dancing, theatre and singing. In addition, Nabil Diyab, a local comedian, delivered a show that addressed the challenges youth and women face in the Gaza Strip.

“Four years of university were not enough to prepare us for the labour market. This training programme equipped us with the necessary leadership and life skills and helped us to become decision makers in our society,” said Suzan Al Surani in her graduation speech.

The head of the UNRWA Gender Initiative, Ms. Lumi Young, mentioned that the programme works towards ensuring that young women can build their skills and potential, and hence serves “to promote equal opportunities for women in Gaza.” She also thanked the Norwegian Government for its continuous support to the GI programme, and local partner CBOs and companies for their partnerships with the initiative.

The YWLP aims to close the skills gap between the labour market needs and women’s participation by ensuring women aged between 22 and 28 years are developing transferrable skills and gaining experience. The programme enhances the employability and self-confidence of young women through leadership and self-development, advanced training in computers, English and management, as well as work placements.

Through the YWLP, the GI tries to mitigate the impact of extremely high unemployment rates in Gaza, a result from over nine years of blockade and recurrent conflicts which have suffocated the enclave’s economy and its capacity to create jobs. Female youth record - with 80 per cent in quarter two of 2016 - the highest joblessness rate among all social groups in Gaza, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. The average unemployment rate stood at 41.7 per cent.


UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA Programme Budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall, projected for 2016 to stand at US$ 96.5 million. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s Programme Budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness
Spokesperson, Director of Advocacy & Strategic Communications
+972 (0)54 240 2659
+972 (0)2 589 0267

Sami Mshasha
Chief of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 216 8295
+972 (0)2 589 0724

Najwa Sheikh Ahmad
Acting Public Information Officer - Gaza Field Office
+972 597 920 542
+972 8 2887 488

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