Pushing away patriarchal practices

Rana Khoury, Palestine







Rana Khoury is Vice President of Development and Outreach at Dar al-Kalima University College of Arts and Culture in Bethlehem, Palestine. She is interested in the role that adult education can play in improving the lives of Palestinian women.

Adult Education and Development: What challenges do you see for Palestinian women today?

Rana Khoury: There are many challenges facing Palestinian women today. Similar to their male counterparts, Palestinian women continue to live under one of the longest military occupations in the world, the Israeli Occupation. Such a reality entails the denial of their basic rights, severe restrictions on their movement, and little or no access to public space, the labour market and viable resources that could spur their growth, both individually and collectively. But for Palestinian women, living under occupation also exacerbates the patri­archal practices, norms and attitudes that solidify the reactionary and traditional views of women and their role in society.

Palestinian women also face a high unemployment rate, standing at 48.9 % during the first quarter of 2018. High unemployment among women is associated with marginalisation and living in poverty. It is well documented that among the poorest of families are those that are headed by women. In terms of their political participation and representation, the number of female leaders in different capacities, particularly in decision-making processes and positions, remains very low.

How can adult education help empower them?

Promoting the idea of adult education in relation to women in Palestine will ultimately enhance their rights. Adult education/lifelong learning is education, and education is a right, and as such adult education designed to enhance women’s socio-economic and political opportunities is a right that women must gain in society. Hence, adult education aims at empowering these women so that they can then creatively advocate for their issues and rights, beginning with the fact that their education and training is a right and not charity.

As a first step, I see that there is a need for immediate action to create economic opportunities for women and support employment promotion through comprehensive, gender-sensitive, innovative, quality adult education programmes that enhance women’s competences on all levels: behavioural, functional (technical) and professional. Well-designed and long-term, goal-orientated adult education enables women to face the current realities, but also empowers them with competences and skills that serve them well into the future. The human capital development of women would not only promote income and employment generation possibilities for women, and thus help eradicate poverty, it would also promote economic sustainability for Palestine in general, similar to many other countries which have gone through similar experiences and are now considered among the top economies of the world.

Can you give us a concrete example of the impact of adult education from your work?

There are countless examples to draw from over the years since Dar al-Kalima has taken the lead in promoting adult education in Palestine, stressing emphatically that its work serves all, from “the womb to the tomb”. Examples include establishing the “Cave Artisana”, where Palestinian women are trained in the Palestinian handicraft industry. To date, it has transitioned hundreds of women into artists with products sold worldwide and establishing their own businesses in different fields of crafts, many using recycled material such as glass.

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