Since 2003 the unemployment rate in the Palestinian Territories has remained stubbornly high, primarily affecting youth and women.
In a new report, which was released by The World Bank and The Representative Office of Norway to the Palestinian Authority late September, figures reveal that the unemployment rate for skilled women is at a staggering 47 per cent. This is more than double for skilled men at 18 per cent.
Women today represent half of the world’s working age population and more than half of the world’s university students, Lynne Sherburne-Benz, World Bank Director for Social Protection and Jobs said in a written statement for Palestine Monitor.
Policies and labour regulations should be adjusted to ensure women’s ability to access and compete in the labour market. The role of the private sector is also critical, and employers have to commit to hire women and pay then equal wages to men for the same work.
Job by chance
One of the Palestinian women that have struggled to get a job is the 28-year-old Ghadeer Ladaa from Ramallah. Finishing her architecture engineer degree in 2010, she sent her CV to not less than 45 companies but only had 10 interviews.
In Palestine, it is hard to find a job as an engineer, because we have a lot of people with that specific education, she told Palestine Monitor.
She mentioned most people had better chances at getting a job if they knew the right person.
I applied for a job at the Ramallah Municipality, and I had all the requirements they needed. They told me they didn’t want a woman for the position. But after a month I found out that they took my classmate because she knew someone in the government.
After a year of applying for jobs within her field of study, Ghadeer Ladaa finally had her chance. However, it was not as an architectural engineer.
I got a job at a medical company where my sister worked. I stayed there for five years before getting a job at another medical company where I work as a Regulatory Affairs and Logistics Officer, she said.
So today, my architecture engineer degree is more used as a hobby.
While Ghadeer Ladaa managed to find a job after a year of searching, 22-year-old Taleen Halteh has just recently stepped into the world of job announcements and interviews.
Finishing her Bachelor in Business Administration at Birzeit University in June, the young woman is struggling to find a job.
It is not easy, because the companies are limited and there are so many graduates. Everyone wants a job, she told Palestine Monitor.
According to the 22-year-old recent graduate, her gender might be an extra hurdle in her job search.
One of my seminars was about equality and the work environment between men and women, and I found that so many companies preferred men because of their productivity is higher. I don’t believe that though.
Inequality in the job field and the society
Inequality between women and men is a subject that has been discussed widely in the Arab world, including Palestine. The issue plays a significant role in the recently released report from The World Bank and The Representative Office of Norway to the Palestinian Authority.
One thing is the limited job opportunities for skilled women, another is the inequality the gender wage gap. This lack of inequality is something that limits the potential economic growth in Palestine.
We commend the Palestinian efforts to advance women’s rights at the national level. It is also crucial to see the impact of policy initiatives on the ground. Getting women into the workforce, with equal opportunities and equal pay is good for the economy, Hilde Haraldstad, Representative of the Office of Norway to the Palestinian Authority said in a written statement for Palestine Monitor.
According to Taleen Halteh, the change needs to be initially made at the educational level.
It is a human right to have a job. We study to have a job, and both genders should have equality in all fields, she said.
To have the opportunity to study is a woman’s right. Not all women get that chance.
Ghadeer Ladaa, who for a number of years represented the women’s national football team in Palestine, sees the inequality as a problem of the mentality in the society. According to her, women are viewed as a weaker gender than the man.
When we played our first international game people said we should stay home and not wear shorts. If I wear shorts on the street of Ramallah sometimes people yell at me, and I live in one of the most open cities of Palestine, Ladaa said.
The mentality is so hard. In Ramallah, it might be less than other places in Palestine, but some companies show that they have equal rights, but when it comes down to it, they don’t, she added.
While both women have faced and are facing the obstacles of being a woman in the work field of Palestine they are seeing a change.
According to Halteh, her future as a fresh graduate looks a lot brighter than earlier. She believes Palestine is beginning to face reality, that the limitations to skilled women in the workforce are a loss to the country.
I think it is changing slowly, but people are accepting the idea of the working woman more than before.
For Ladaa, who recently was promoted at her job, it is important to show the Palestinian society that skilled women are essential for the future of the country.
I am working and coaching football to show the people and the society that I can do the same as men. I can have a job, I can work, I can have an independent life, and they cannot control me, she concluded.
Source: Palestine Monitor