Country: Occupied Palestinian Territories (O.P.T.); Gaza Strip; Gaza City, Rafah.

Donor: Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Period: January 2016 – January 2018.

Thematic Area: Socio-economic empowerment of women with disabilities.

Local Partners: Gaza Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Social Developmental Forum (S.D.F.), El Amal Rehabilitation Society.

Italian partners: Active involvement of RIDS experts, including AIFO (Italian Association of Raul Follereau’s Friends), FISH (Italian Federation for Overcoming Handicap) and DPI Italy (Disabled People’s International).

General Objective: the promotion of the social inclusion of women with disabilities in the Gaza Strip, according to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The project’s goal is to improve the living conditions of one of the most vulnerable group of the Palestinian society, which is women with disabilities. By working on the socio-economic dimension, the aim of the project is to overcome the traditional approach on disability in favor of a more inclusive model, which could lead to a real empowerment for persons with disabilities and the erasure of a social stigma.

Specific Objective: the socio-economic empowerment of women with disabilities in the Gaza Strip. The project aims both at encouraging unemployed disabled women to enter the job market, and at supporting working women. The project provides advice to women with disabilities on how to manage their own micro-businesses, training courses on how to use media, and it also focuses on raising awareness on women’s rights in the Palestinian society, especially regarding the right to work.

Beneficiaries: 929 low-income women with disabilities take part in the activities of socio-psychological support, professional training and working inclusion. 30 already employed women with disabilities receive advanced courses on media. 15 start-ups managed by women with disabilities receive consultancy from a FISH expert and a local expert. 20 local associations (both NGOs and CBOs) attend RIDS activities on mainstreaming of disability.  270 persons from private and non-profit associations are made aware on working inclusion of women with disabilities.  20 companies and non-profit benefit from environmental and technological adjustments. 3000 students and 120 teachers in secondary schools participate in the awareness-raising campaign. Indirect beneficiaries of the projects are at least 1200 relatives and 1000 colleagues of women with disabilities, who benefit from their social and working empowerment, and at least 9000 relatives of the students who benefit from the awareness-raising campaign.

Project summary: in Palestine, women with disabilities are excluded from the decision-making process and from the job market.  They suffer from the missed implementation of the relevant legislation: Palestinian law, in fact, refers only to medical aspects of disability, not including the modern meaning promoted on the international level by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. One of the most important steps for the inclusion of women with disabilities is granting the access to the job market: paid work outside of the family context increases the social consideration of women with disabilities, strengthening their decision-making skills and decreasing violence. In addition, women with disabilities also encounter many problems of a cultural nature: the work of women with disabilities is often perceived as inadequate, which represents an obstacle in their emancipation process. The project therefore provides support to women with disabilities in starting their own business thanks to peer-counselling activities, work grants and a support and guidance desk; with counselling and training on media, it supports already established work activities of women with disabilities; it carries out awareness-raising activities in school and CBOs, on the rights of women with disabilities.