In our years of experience in the field of Women empowerment, we have constantly found that young women (ages 17-21) are a vulnerable group who are left alone. For many, this age is decisive in the way in which their lives will evolve –between finding and defining their own path or submitting to the needs and expectations of the family and society. From our various networks in the women field, we have come to realize more and more how much support this age group needs and how little support they receive.
Therefore at Al-Tufula we decided planned and implemented a project that provided support to these young women to change their present and future situation. This project addressed underlying obstacles that impede the full participation of Palestinian women in society and provides them with the tools they need to help themselves. Therefore, the Empowering Young Palestinian Women project was a holistic approach.
The project which ran from 2007 until 2016 was based on the assumption that (higher) education and learning a profession are basic qualifications that young women need in order to achieve self-sufficiency and independence. Furthermore, the project placed a special focus on strengthening their identity and raising their awareness to gender equality and the socialization they received. Through the project, beneficiaries were trained and encouraged to play an active role in society thus becoming not only self-sufficient, but also agents of social change and models for other young women. In turn, this improved their situation and status in society, and they became active citizens, in building a civil society through the various roles they played in their lives.
The project provided training and strengthened the skills and capacities of 15 young Palestinian women (per year) from low-income families and increased their professional and personal opportunities to become self-sufficient. Through this project beneficiaries were encouraged to reach higher education, to raise their awareness of their role in community development and become community leaders. This was reached through building leadership and cultivating the value of voluntarism among the local Palestinian community in Israel and promoting values of mutual help and support.
As a result of the success of the project in conjuction with evaluations, it was decided to further increase the outreach to the target group by working with young men. As a result, the project "Color Your Town with Life" was conceived.