By Sireen Hoso
Amal Mohammed* is a survivor, an entrepreneur, and an inspiration. After years of struggle and despair, she has reclaimed her sense of self and is now in the prime of her life. She is a successful sweets manufacturer, selling her products in the Palestinian market.
Amal grew up in an abusive household and suffered a long history of violence, which led her to lose all hope in herself and in her abilities to bring about any positive change in her life. That is, until she discovered the opportunities created by vocational training. She decided to enroll at the Episcopal Technical and Vocational Training Center in the Ramallah Governorate and to specialize in the preparation of various kinds of sweets. Amal has always had a passion for cooking, and it seemed like a natural pathway for her to pursue. This training not only equipped her with the technical skills to master sweets production but also enabled her to successfully market her products.
Amal attributes her economic empowerment to the vocational training she received. “My life has changed because of my hard work and perseverance,” she reflects. “I’ve become more financially able and independent from my family. I have a stable source of income, which makes me feel safe. I created my own website to market my products.”
She continues: “This [experience] has affected my social life by positively impacting my relationships with others, including my husband, who was initially opposed to my training. He has become convinced of the importance of my work. We now work together – he helps me – and our economic situation has improved. I can meet my own needs and provide for our family’s needs as well. I make my own decisions now. This has drastically improved my self-esteem and given me confidence that I had never felt before.”
Amal is proud of her transformation: “I now feel appreciated by a society that used to view me only as a victim. I broke free from this perspective and refuse to return to it.” She emphasizes the importance of vocational education in transforming her life and encourages other girls and women to benefit from it: “Vocational education is the shortest and easiest way to empower us economically.”
“I had lost hope of any positive change in my life until I was able to find employment through vocational education.” Amal*
The Gender Responsive and Inclusive Technical and Vocational Education and Training (GRIT) project recognizes the capacity and tenacity of Palestinian women, including women with disabilities, and seeks to reduce barriers to help them achieve their educational and career goals. By improving access to technical and vocational training programs, the project opens doors that have been closed to many girls and women such as Amal, enabling them to participate in the labor market and enhance their status in their communities.
GRIT represents a partnership between the Lutheran World Federation Jerusalem and the Canadian Lutheran World Relief, with funding from Global Affairs Canada. The project is implemented through nine technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutes throughout East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Learn more by following GRIT on Facebook @GRITproj.
*Note: The name has been changed to protect privacy. Article photos are general images that show activities of the GRIT project and do not depict the subject of the article.