Country: Palestinian Territories /Gaza strip

Donor: IACD (Italian agency for Cooperation and Development

PeriodMay 2018 – May 2021

Thematic areaDisability and inclusion, reducing inequalities.

Local partners: El Amal Rehabilitation society, Social Developmental Forum (SDF), UNDP (United Nation Development Programme), Gaza Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Italian partners: RIDS (Italian Network Disability and Development), FISH (Italian Federation Overcoming Handicap), University of Bologna /Educational Sciences Departement Giovanni Maria Bertin, Social Cooperative “Center for Authonomy Michele Iacontino”

Overall objective: Fostering full Inclusion of PWDs (Persons with disabilities), in particular of WWDs (Women with Disabilities) in the Palestinian Territories, in coherence with the UNCRPD (United Nation Convention of Persons with Disabilities)

Specific objective: Strengthening independence and self-determination of PWDs, in particular of WWDs in Gaza, by implementing an olistic and innovative center with the support of local DPOs and CBOs; strengthening self-determination: at least 40% of the PWDs users of the Center will strengthen their decision making capabilities in their families after acquiring knowledge skills from Center services; strengthening independence and self-esteem: at least 50% of the PWDs users of the Center will raise their participation on social events, after benefiting from Center services.

Direct Beneficiaries: at least 500 PWDs and their families will benefit from center services; 200 PWDs, among whom at least 80 WWDs, and 100 familiars will benefit from group peer counseling activities; 15 schools will benefit from environmental rehabilitation interventions and training on inclusive education; 200 students at least will benefit from support and counseling services; 80 WWDs will benefit from professional training; 40 WWDs will benefit from internship activities; at least 40 private businesses will benefit from environmental rehabilitation interventions and will be sensitized on the right to work of PWDs; 500 PWDs at least will be involved on job orientation activities; 10 WWDs will be trained on social media; 100 WWDs and mothers of PWDs will benefit from story telling activities; 400 people at least will be sensitized on rights of PWDs.

Indirect Beneficiaries: PWDs and families, students with and without disabilities, schools, local DPOs and CBOs, the entire Palestinian community.

Summary of the projectAccording to the data of PCBS, Palestinian Center Bureau of Statistics, 6.9% of Gaza population are persons with disabilities, PWDs. Those are one of most vulnerable groups of Gaza strip, as they have to face extreme conditions in their everyday lives, such as the exclusion from enjoyment of their human rights, and are also subject to discrimination. This situation is more difficult for WWDs, who are facing a double discrimination both as women and persons with disabilities. By the data collected by EducAid with the baselines and researches conducted in Gaza and West Bank between 2015 and 2017, together with the support of local partners organizations, it has emerged how the obstacles in fully recognizing the rights of PWDs are linked to three interconnected aspects: lack of autonomy, missing access to socioeconomic empowerment opportunities, stigma of the society. The lack of autonomy is caused by low accessibility to places and absence of adequate assistive equipment. In order to enjoin their rights and be autonomous in their everyday lives, PWDs need assistive devices and customized solutions. According to the World Bank, the supply of those services in Gaza is too far from satisfying the actual needs of the PWDs, and the available services are not able to respond to complex needs, which have to be classified considering age, gender and kind of disability. For this reason, 38.4% of PWDs in Gaza is not able to manage aspects of their everyday lives independently.

The lack of empowerment is linked to difficulties in accessing the education system and to the lack of job opportunities for PWDs. As reported by the 2011 PCBS data, 42.2% of PWDs older than 15 years old living in Gaza, are not enrolled to any school, while 90.9% are unemployed. This context causes a low participation of PWDs to socioeconomic development and a lack of independence in the decision making process and in the socioeconomic level. Moreover, the Independent Commission for Human Rights underlines that Palestinian students with disabilities are only the 0.3% of all Palestinian students, due to the scarce accessibility of education places and lack of methodologies for inclusive education; as stated by the ILO data, failing to include PWDs in the labour market can generate a loss of GDP between 3 and 7%. Furthermore, social stigma can influence self-esteem and individual and social empowerment path of PWDs. Awareness of society is considered a fundamental aspect, as it directly intervenes on the behavior of families of PWDs, as their attitude is usually the first barrier PWDs are facing. The 54.5% of thwe 189 WWDs interviewed by EducAid in the baseline conducted in 2017 in Gaza, said that social stigma represents one of the most difficult obstacles they are faced with in order to get a job opportunity; whilst according to UNICEF data, 23.1% of PWDs have to face serious difficulties on accessing the education system because of strong social discrimination. In the need assessment conducted by EducAid it emerged how interventions aimed on fostering social inclusion of PWDs are quantitatively insufficient and not coordinated, and therefore inadequate, because aid interventions are focused on using a medical approach which considers the person with disability as a beneficiary of a service, instead of the main character in a social approach, as stated by the UNCRPD.

In order to respond efficaciously to these needs, the aim of the project is to build a center for independent living and social inclusion of PWDs in Gaza. The center adopts an olistic approach, by working on self-esteem, socioeconomic empowerment and stigma of PWDs (as they are considered as factors strictly linked to each other), and creates customized individual and group paths aimed at maximizing independence and empowerment of PWDs, by considering their specific needs, in terms of a better autonomy, access to education and labour market and increased awareness of society. The center, which is an innovative institution in a similar context, supplies assistive equipment and provide services, thanks to the support of a multidisciplinary group of specialists who work closely with PWDs and their families. The team of specialists includes even the key figures of peer counselors, people with disabilities who will provide psychological and social support to the beneficiaries during their individual empowerment and social inclusion path, thanks to psychological and social support interventions.