Palestinian Women in Gaza Hone Their Skills
Recently, 50 women took part in sewing, embroidery, beauty care and photography courses at the Cooperative Society for Saving and Lending in Beit Hanoun. And 15 more women were selected for grants to promote their small enterprises.
Stitching livelihoods in Gaza
In Beit Hanoun, Gaza a group of women are absorbed in their work designing dresses. Winter isn’t a popular season for wedding ceremonies but it’s a good time for dressmakers to prepare their inventory, so the women are busy sewing skirts and other outfits.
Abeer, the sewing course trainer, sees a trend of more and more people preferring custom designs rather than ready-to-wear clothes. This means sewing is an in-demand job, valued by customers seeking to keep up with the latest fashions on social media — especially when they can't find these styles in local markets.
Abeer has been working in this field for more than nine years. “Sewing requires practice,” she says. In the training course, women make new designs for skirts, dresses, trousers and patterned t-shirts using different fabrics like chiffon, silk, cotton and velour.
Anera provided the sewing machines that the participants are using, allowing them to work quickly and at a high level of quality.
Tahreer is one of the women in the course. She has 10 children. Like half of Palestinians in Gaza, her husband is unemployed. She says,
I have to work and make money. Sewing is my hobby. Hopefully it will now be my source of income. Plus, now I can sew my children's clothes myself and be sure of the quality."
Photography is the way to less stress and capturing memories!
Nisreen is a student at the photography studio in Beit Hanoun. She went to college but did not discover her interest in photography until later. After Nisreen graduated she couldn't find a job. That’s when she decided to try photography.
She wants to hone her talent so she can photograph special events like weddings and birthdays. “With this [course] I can master a skill that will provide an income,” she says.
She and her peers are being trained on different types of cameras to ensure they are fluent in the latest technology. “People like social media so we need to be able to post on Facebook accounts for the opening of a new shop or to help market products,” she says.
In the past, people tended to host weddings at home. “Now, people wear fancy dresses and relatives are keen on showing off,” Nisreen says. New technology has created opportunities for women to find work in areas that previously did not exist.
Inside the studio, the photography trainer said that he creates physical backdrops like snowy vistas and sunsets to avoid having to rely upon purchasing expensive software and using a green screen.
Opportunities for profitable work are scarce in Gaza. In this course, trainees learn all the skills they need to be professional photographers. The course taught Nisreen and the other students how to take professional photos, record videos and edit in Photoshop.
Rasha is a mother of five children. She couldn’t find a job to provide for her children with their basic needs, even though she graduated from college. She decided to learn photography in the hopes that that new skill will open doors.
Eman also suffers from the lack of income, as her husband has health problems and couldn't work.
Now it's my responsibility to take care of my husband and my children.”
With the rapid development and technology, women have a role in their societies, as they seek to work and support their families. Photography is becoming one of the socially acceptable jobs in Beit Hanoun, Gaza.
At the end of this course, trainees will be ready to work. Part of their learning experience included making videos and taking photos of seven events. They also created handmade props for their new year photo shoots in the studio. All of the students report that they now feel more confident in dealing with people and participating in their society.