Country: Palestinian Territories, governorates of Ramallah and Nablus

Donor: IACD (Italian Agency for Cooperation and development)

Period: 36 months

Thematic area: inclusive business, socio-economic development, persons with disabilities, gender equality

Local partners: Rantis Young Ladies Society, Aswat Society, Birzeit University (CDS Center for Development, studies); An-Najah University (Nabic An-Najah Business Innovation and Partnership Center); Chamber of Commerce of Ramallah and Nablus.

Italian partners: PIN – Yunus Social Business Center University of Florence (YSBCUF), Italian Network Disability and development, Strategic Plan Agency.

Overall objective: To promote social economy in Palestine with a mainstreaming approach to disability

Specific objective: promoting inclusiveness of persons with disabilities by creating and supporting social businesses, which foster job placement and self-employment of WWDs and mothers of PWDs.

Promoting the role of public institutions and Disabled People Organizations as key actors for an inclusive socio-economic development, through their active involvement in the creation and support of social businesses in Nablus and Ramallah areas.

Direct beneficiaries: 100 Women With Disabilities and mothers of People With Disabilities; at least 6 DPOs; Chambers of commerce of Nablus and Ramallah; Birzeit and Nablus University; at least 2000 students and graduated students who will have the opportunity to develop social start-ups; at least 500 Palestinian and Italian managers who will become more aware on social economy and disability.

Indirect Beneficiaries: PWDs and their families, students of Universities of Birzeit and Nablus, the Palestinian private sector, the entire Palestinian community.

Summary of the project:

Since 2012, Palestine has been witnessing a significant economic decrease, mostly caused by Israeli occupation, as well as by the dependence on Israeli market and on international aids.

The recession inevitably produced a considerable fall in per capita GDP and a sharp increase in the unemployment rate, which in 2015 peaked at 27% (among which, 23,9% men and 38,5% women), according to ILO data. The situation is even worse when taking into consideration the weakest and most vulnerable part of the population, among which Persons with Disabilities (PWD), whose unemployment rate - according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistic - was already of the 87% in 2011, before the crisis hit.

Women with disabilities, in particular, suffer from a deeper form of discrimination, as their stigma is twofold: Palestinian society is very hostile towards disability, and they are women inside a strongly patriarchal society.

The result is that women with disabilities are prevented from accessing the job market, and the lack of economic autonomy only worsen their lack of independency. The obstacles that keep women with disabilities from finding a job and achieving economic independence are numerous. Those include a strong social stigma, a scarce implementation of the existing normative protecting their rights (for instance, Palestinian law 4/99 and the United Nation Convention of the Rights of People with Disabilities), the impotence of local Disabled People Organization, and the prevalence of a partial and stereotypical approach on disability. The isolation that women with disabilities endure is also shared by mothers of persons with disabilities: as their life is completely dedicated to taking care of their children, they have no opportunity of socio-economic inclusion.

In such context, it appears necessary to promote a model of socio-economic development which is inclusive, which could favor the employment of women with disabilities and of mothers of PcD, and which would identify in their employment one of the key for the protection and promotion of their rights. Equally important and necessary would be paying more attention on the needs of PCD and strengthening the role played by DPOs and public institutions in their socio-economic development.

Their support, in fact, can be translated into the creation of new initiatives of social entrepreneurship, involving women with disabilities and mothers of people with disabilities in the first place. Moreover, through the promotion of inclusive businesses supported by local stakeholders, it can be possible to stimulate a new Palestinian economic model that contributes in reducing the dependence on the Israeli market and international aids.