Palestinian women dig for new opportunities in Gaza
By Nidal al-Mughrabi
DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip (Reuters) - A group of Palestinian women is breaking new ground in the Gaza Strip by working as ditch-diggers to support their families.
Some 300 women have signed up to dig reservoirs on Gaza farms in a project organized by the internationally funded Union of Agriculture Work Committees, UAWC officials said Thursday.
Although Gaza women have traditionally worked on family farms, picking fruit and vegetables, this is the first time they have hoisted shovels for a job usually reserved for men in the conservative enclave, where unemployment is 60 per cent.
Najah Al-Farra said she became a ditch digger to support her 10 children after her husband left her.
"I went to work because my conditions were very difficult. I make 1,200 shekels ($318) for every 20 days of work," she said.
Mohammed Al-Bakri, the UAWC's executive director, said the organization aimed to give women equal opportunity in job creation projects in the Gaza Strip, territory controlled by Hamas Islamists.
"We were anxious at the beginning but the women proved to be good at the job," he said about the ditch-diggers.
In a sun-baked field, a woman who gave her name only as Hanan said doing such manual labor might break conventions in the Gaza Strip, but she was more concerned about supporting her four children.
"I am ready to tile the sea to make a living for my children," said Hanan, a single parent.
(Editing by Alison Williams)
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