Hairdressing and hope: realising the rights of people with disabilities in Gaza

Through our programmes and partners, Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) has a long history of supporting Palestinian people with disabilities to realise their right to full inclusion and participation in society.

We spoke with Rita*, a participant in MAP’s “Inclusive and Accessible Society” project in Gaza - run in partnership with local disability rights organisations - to find out how the project helped her to set up her own business. 

Rita is 24 years old and lives with her family in the Middle Area of Gaza. Rita has a hearing impairment and finds it difficult to communicate with people outside of her family, as not many people in her community understand sign language.

Rita joined the“Inclusive and Accessible Society for All” project in 2016. Through discussion sessions and training courses, she learned more about the rights of people with disabilities and the need for her community to change and enable people with disabilities to integrate more fully.

As part of the project, Rita completed a 50-day internship at a hair salon. MAP supports these placements as employment is a major factor in realising socio-economic rights and ensuring people with disabilities can live independent lives.

Occupation, blockade and closure have detrimentally impacted the employment opportunities of Palestinians with disabilities. Gaza has the world’s highest unemployment rate – around 43% – which makes it even more challenging for people with disabilities to gain and keep jobs. In December 2016, the Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network stated that 90% of people with disabilities in in Gaza were unemployed.

Rita said the support she received whilst at the hair salon, through self-help groups and other psychosocial services, helped her to make the most of the internship and go on to set up her own hair dressing business:

I have learnt a lot from the Inclusive and Accessible Society for All’ project. I have received several services, the most important one being the 50 days internship at a hair salon. This raised my self-esteem, made me feel that I am human and proved that I can contribute to my society just like anyone else”.

Rita also reflected that the internship helped her to develop her communication skills with people unfamiliar with sign language, while also encouraging others to learn to sign.

At university, I studied Creative Technology and I wanted to practice this. However, the situation in Gaza is getting more and more wretched. There have been no job opportunities for such a long time, but with the skills I have learnt through the project I grew in confidence. I have decided to start my own business in hairdressing.

My life would not be like now if I had not had access to MAP’s project. The most useful aspect of the project is capacity building and the opportunity to complete an internship. I would recommend this project to friends and relatives.

Donate

Please donate today to help MAP continue supporting the rights of people with disabilities in Gaza.

*Name has been changed to protect identity