Ramallah –27 women from the villages of Jiftlik, Froush Beit Djan, Bardala, Dweik, Al Nuaymeh and Ein Bayda, all from the Jericho and Jordan Valley area, met last week for an evaluation workshop in Jericho’s Tourist Village.
The workshop was set up by MIFTAH in order to listen to the women’s needs in the fields of training and financial support for the “Empowerment of women through grants for income-generating projects in rural areas”. The project is under the supervision of MIFTAH’s project coordinator Hanan Saeed and is funded by the Arab Fund.
The workshop was facilitated by the gender expert Fida’ Barghouti, who let the women speak for themselves and identify their needs and priorities. The women, meanwhile, expressed their appreciation for MIFTAH intervention as different and unique in compare to other interventions they received.
Randa Hassan from Jiftlik and a graduate of animal production from Al Najah University is part of a group of women who is running a raising livestock income generating project. She says MIFTAH build our capacities in projects management to support us in running our projects. “MIFTAH gave us the opportunity to present and express own needs and priorities and did not dictate anything to us,” she says, adding that the meeting provided the group of women with a safe flexible space to discuss and pinpoint their needs.
Randa who lives with her parents and brother and is hoping that her project will help improve her family’s income. she says “It is easy for us to work and manage it, especially given my degree,” Randa maintains, hoping that the income they bring in will help them improved them economically.
She also brings out a very positive outcome of the project: “In the past, we used to go and work in the settlements but today we are working in our fields and farms and we run our own projects,” crediting MIFTAH with this change.
Fadia Abu Jeish [Um Shadi] from Froush Beit Djan is a mother of four and is running another livestock income generating project with a group of other six women.
Um Shadi is also grateful that MIFTAH allowed them to make their own decisions. “For the first time, we feel that we are in charge of a project which responds to our needs and our priorities,”. She expressed her hope to receive more capacity building and supportive programs from MIFTAH. Um Shadi describes the situation at her local community as a “disastrous”, indicating to low incomes are extremely low and job opportunities scarce. “That is why we hope our project grows and expands. Eventually, we also hope to have a production kitchen to freeze vegetables and employ more people,” she says. “That is a project that can succeed.”
Project coordinator Hanan Saeed says the meeting was a primary step in gauging the assessment of training needs later on for the Jericho and Jordan Valley projects. “We have seven projects distributed across seven areas in the Jordan Valley,” Saeed says, all of which are aimed at building the capacities of the beneficiaries in developing and running their projects efficiently. “Each project has its needs. That is why we held this evaluation session, so that the beneficiaries could determine their own needs, which will be incorporated in future MIFTAH trainings.”
Trainer Fida’ Barghouti said the goal of the workshop was to identify the most prominent difficulties and problems facing the women in terms of managing their projects.. She said it was important to hear about their realities in their own words and what they feel are the most important needs lacking. Barghouti was also interested in learning the women’s skills and qualifications along with their weak and strong points so that the organization could formulate a methodical plan for their training from a gender perspective.
This workshop in particular was significant, says Barghouti. The needs assessment was a necessary first step since this was the women’s first experience in managing projects. They exchanged experiences and opinions, spoke about their successes, achievements and challenges and discovered their abilities . This sense of independence in expressing themselves and defining their own needs is something the women accredited to MIFTAH, saying it has always given them the moral and economic support to build their capacities as women, project owners, mothers and wives who aspire to be productive and active in society.
The women, meanwhile, expressed some of the challenges they face, including difficulties in dealing with the sheep when they get sick. They also face challenges in dealing with and storage of animal feed. They mentioned the lack of licenses granted to small associations in addition to the challenges they face in developing their projects. Other challenges the women mentioned had to do with difficulties in dealing with accounting issues and the distribution of roles between the different women in one project. They said they found it difficult to manage their time now that they have these projects to manage in addition to their families.
As for their needs, the women said they would like to have veterinarian courses, learn ways to store animal feed and a course on teamwork, in addition to courses on communication and writing skills. They also said they would like to network with other similar institutions and take a course on how to deal with the media in order to voice their concerns as women and project managers. Finally, the beneficiaries said they would like to take courses that have to do with raising the awareness of husbands and other family members to the importance of women’s roles in the public and private arenas.