Economic Empowerment for Widows and Divorced Women in the AL-Fawwar Camp

Final project
Year of publication:
Women's Empowerment
Number of pages:


The problem for Palestinian women in gender equality and women’s rights is defined by two main interrelated forces: the Israeli occupation, and internal patriarchal control. Women activists in Palestine are fighting simultaneously on two fronts - political and social. They remain unsure about a feminist agenda that primarily focuses on individual and social gender empowerment and instead confirm that gender inequality in their context come not only from patriarchal oppression, but from poverty, economic dependency, continued political violence, insecurity and instability caused by Israeli occupation. Israeli occupation policies of territorial (and political) fragmentation, spatial separation and mobility restrictions have systematically dispossessed, occupied and destroyed Palestinian living spaces, breaking up Palestinian territory into several unconnected and isolated cantons. Such policies of spatial control have a severe damaging impact on Palestinian economy (Roy, 2004), society, family and kinship organization (Johnson, 2006), but also on women’s activism. Women are not only divided geographically (between – and within – the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem and the Diaspora), but, more importantly, their status varies greatly. Refugees, West Bank and Gaza ‘citizens’, East Jerusalemites and Palestinians with Israeli citizenship all have different access to rights. This wide variation limits women activists’ efforts to organise a united agenda. So the special standing of refugees and ‘citizens’ in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem will be mapped out. This does not cover Palestinian women’s rights and issues of gender equality inside Israel or the Diaspora. So women’s rights in Palestine cannot be dealt with in isolation as the impact that the occupation and political conflict have on women’s legal, social, cultural, educational, economic and political status is very important when looking for possible strategies to empower women. This is not to say that patriarchal structures and cultures are not a major concern for Palestinian women’s activist. On the contrary, it highlights that women’s empowerment in the Palestinian context and their struggle for equal rights is closely linked to their political and economic empowerment which can only be achieved by ending the Israeli occupation. The idea of the project came in dealing with widows and divorced in Al-Fawwar camp, because this category suffers from economic, psychological, and difficult social conditions. Economically there is no source of income especially after losing their spouse, which reflect negatively on their economic life. Psychologically: widows and divorced women have lost their spouse, so they have lost security, safety and stability in their life which will reflect negatively on their psychological life for example with attendant depression, anxiety, stress, etc. Socially: after losing their spouses, widows and divorced women have had the responsibility of caring and raising children transferred to them. This thing makes them live under psychological pressure, continuously thinking about ways to buy what their children need, and sometimes widows and divorced women are forced to ask for help from relatives and neighbors and to accept money from those people. This causes them shame, and makes them vulnerable to exploitation from pad people in the society. Therefore, the main goal of the project is economic empowerment for widows and divorced by giving them vocational training courses, to enable them to gain skills, qualify them to launch economic projects or get a job. This will strengthen their self-confidence, make them open to the world and strengthens their personality. They can compete with men in all fields and have greater awareness and ability to claim their rights. In addition they change from being a marginalized group to an active group and have an impact in the community, with an ambition to achieve human rights equality between men and women.