Press Release

Women Can Launches in Gaza


Khyria expanded her home bakery in her West Bank village through Women Can.

November 9, 2021 | Gaza City — With generous funding from Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA), Anera has just launched its Women Can women’s empowerment program in Gaza. Participants in the program will begin participating in the initial training sessions later this month.

The program is currently identifying 30 women in the middle area of Gaza to participate. Anera selects the women according to predefined criteria in coordination with the Ministry of Social Development and local organizations that serve women.

Sharif Aly, CEO of IRUSA, says,

“IRUSA is committed to collaborate with Anera on the Women Can program in Gaza and facilitate the economic empowerment and self-sufficiency of vulnerable women and families. This program will equip women with the resources and technical skills needed to successfully build and maintain unique businesses to support their families on a sustainable basis. We are proud to promote such innovative and empowering programs that ultimately reduce the growing needs of women in an unstable environment.”

The extension of Women Can into Gaza will help to empower more Palestinian women-headed families to increase their economic autonomy and financial resources. Anera works with the Palestinian Ministry of Social Development, local community-based organizations, the Rural Women Development Society, and community municipalities and councils to identify a pool of eligible beneficiaries.

Islam Mhanna, an agronomist and Anera’s project coordinator on Women Can in Gaza, says,

“It is heartbreaking and difficult to separate my work each day from my personal emotional reaction whenever I meet families who need support. It is unjust to see them left behind, lacking access to basics like food. They barely have a roof above their heads. Women Can provides self-reliance projects so they can at least afford medicine, food, and textbooks for their children.”

At least 80% of the participants will likely have improved their income within one year of receiving capacity building and grant support. All the women participating are the heads of their families and are unemployed, underemployed, or employed at a very low wage. Many of the women are widowed or divorced, and have either many dependents or family members with disabilities.

Anera works with every participant to identify the most suitable small business from among their ideas. Each idea is assessed based on the resources and qualifications of the participant, taking into account factors such as her family resources, capacities, and interests, to ensure the likely success of the project.

The project builds on the successes of Women Can in the West Bank, first launched in 2019. Based on previous project results, agriculture and animal husbandry, grocery and retail stores, and catering projects have proven the most successful, providing a steady income as well as food security for the beneficiaries’ families. The initiative also builds upon Anera’s experience in Gaza. In 2020, Anera implemented a one-year women’s economic empowerment project in Beit Hanoun with the support of a private foundation that delivered business development skills training and small grants to more than 70 women to start their own businesses.

The Women Can trainings cover social empowerment and technical topics like business and financial management, as well as team building and networking sessions. Based on the business needs of each woman, Anera will provide support by contracting local suppliers and assisting in the procurement and installation of the equipment required for each enterprise.

Anera staff will provide continued mentorship and guidance to each new business owner as they launch and scale their businesses. Wherever possible, Anera will match beneficiaries to female mentors.


For more information:

Gaza City
Rania Elhelo
Communications Manager

Washington DC
Steven Fake
Media Relations Officer

About Anera
Since 1968, Anera has helped refugees and others hurt by conflicts in the Middle East live with dignity and purpose. Anera, which has no political or religious affiliation, works on the ground with partners in the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem, Lebanon, and Jordan. We mobilize resources for immediate humanitarian relief and for sustainable health, education, and economic development efforts. Our staff are from the communities they serve, navigating the politics that constrict progress to get help where it’s needed most. We will keep building better lives until hope finds its way in the Middle East.

The views expressed herein are those of Anera and shall not, in any way whatsoever, be construed to reflect the official opinion of IRUSA, its Islamic Relief affiliates, or its donors.