Almost 200 young women in Gaza last week celebrated their graduation from an UNRWA programme that provides young female graduates with the skills needed by the labour market in Gaza – and helps prepare them to be leaders in their communities.
The 172 participants were the first graduates of UNRWA’s young women leaders programme (YWLP), which the Gaza gender initiative launched in January 2011.
With the unemployment rate in Gaza at unprecedented levels, particularly among young women, programmes such as the YWLP are more crucial than ever in addressing the lack of employment opportunities for young people.
YWLP graduate Lina, 26, said: “The graduation ceremony is an opportunity to tell people about my experience with the YWLP and how much the training helped me improve my skills, especially in IT and English. The event is a good tool to market the graduates among NGOs, so that NGOs can inform us of any jobs or training opportunities.”
Representatives of non-governmental organisations, community-based organisations and UNRWA staff members attended the graduation ceremony. The celebrations included presentations by participants of business ideas and skills gained through the programme.
During their time with the YWLP, participants receive training and skills complementing their university education, such as advanced IT training, communication, project planning and management, advanced English training and organisational management. Some participants also attend entrepreneurship training with UNRWA’s microfinance programme.
Sense of leadership
The YWLP fosters a sense of leadership and agency, giving participants the confidence and means to be active citizens who are able to contribute to improving the situation in Gaza.
Twenty-five-year-old Madeeha said: “I used to be very insecure when I applied for jobs and thought that I would never get to the interview round. Two weeks ago, I got a job in YMCA as an animator, after participating in the training offered by the young women leadership programme on how to pass jobs interviews with confidence.”
The participants in the programme have demonstrated an outstanding determination to work hard to change their difficult circumstances. The talented women of the YWLP are a testament to the accomplishments and invaluable resources that the young women of Gaza represent. The Gaza field gender initiative will continue with the programme for the next two years.