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INTERNISA Offline Spot: A bridge between the physical and digital worlds for Palestine’s enterprising women

Jerusalem24 – Fighting gender-based violence, social injustice, and poverty, takes many forms on the ground, and sometimes in little thought-of ways.

With those goals in mind, ActionAid—Palestine is launching a new program aiming to enhance the digital skills of young, old, and enterprising Palestinian women.

“There are many indicators showing that Palestinian women are developing and improving their use of technology and internet,” Riham Jafari, Communications, Advocacy& Campaigns Coordinator at ActionAid Palestine, tells Jerusalem24.

“Many female entrepreneurs depend on technology and the internet in building their personal and professional initiatives,” she says, with more and more women using developed technology and digital marketing to market their own products, and working online using recent apps.

These developments come in addition to the increasing number of female STEM students, which is amongst the highest in the Arab world.

But operating in the digital world requires a physical connection, something which a still-significant number of households (and women) lack, particularly in marginalized communities.

According to the latest figures by Ministry of Information, Technology and Communication, 84% of Palestinian households in the West Bank have access to the internet, while 73% of households in Gaza do. Between men and women, there also still exists a discrepancy: while 79% of men have access to online services, only 71% of women do.

In order to address this lack of access to services, ActionAid—Palestine is launching two “offline spots” – two physical locations in the occupied West Bank – which will help women make the most of their existing skills as well as develop new ones, or simply provide them with the material they may lack at home, within an equipped room at the Chamber of Commerce both in Bethlehem and Hebron.

In addition to enhancing their digital skills, the women in attendance will be able to learn about the importance of protecting their digital rights, and how to use the best tools to protect themselves online.

These and other tools are necessary in the fight to achieve gender equality in the digital fields, says Jafari, pointing to the low rate of female participation in the labor market in Palestine.

This is one of the reasons it is crucial for international organizations to work with local, grassroots, established communities on the ground, says Jafari, in order to tailor their projects to the particular situation in Palestine, and the situation of Palestinian women in particular.

“We believe that there should be a need for integration and full partnership between local and international organizations,” she says, “to work in a complementary way to try to bridge this gap in technology.”

Jafari reminds us that improving these women’s condition can change the whole Palestinian community.

“Our women deserve more and require more efforts from us,” she affirms. “If we improve the conditions of the Palestinian women, we can help improve the Palestinian community as well”.

Listen to the full interview on Vibes.

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