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UNRWA Helps Palestinian Women Entrepreneurs
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UNRWA Helps Palestinian Women Entrepreneurs
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, UNRWA, provides food rations and basic services for some 27,000 Palestinians in Gaza refugee camp in Jordan. A new microcredit project, sponsored by UNRWA, seeks to create financial independence for women and break the cycle of poverty.
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Produced by UN in Action.

Find out more about the UNRWA’s work with Palestinian refugees in Jordan.

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Segment 1

VOICEOVER
More than 27,000 Palestinians live here, crowded together in the Gaza refugee camp in Jordan. Life here is not easy. Most refugees are unemployed or work sporadically in low-paying menial jobs. With most of whatever jobs that do exist going to men, women are left with few options to earn a living. Among them, 42-year-old Fatima Abdallah Abu Knar, her sick husband, Jabber and their ten children. To try and support her family, Fatima worked manual labor in nurseries and olive groves, but the work was difficult and inconsistent. She tried peddling nik-naks out of a suitcase but the money was always inadequate.
FATIMA ABDALLAH ABU KNAR
I needed school expenses, clothes for my daughters and groceries for the house.
VOICEOVER
Fatima and her family did receive food rations and other basic services provided by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, or UNRWA. Today more than four million Palestinian refugees are registered with UNRWA. More than one million of them are women. In an effort to help Fatima and thousands of others break out of the cycle of poverty, UNRWA established a small loan or microcredit program. It's an opportunity for people who could otherwise never meet the requirements for a loan to get one and start their own business. And while the program is available to men as well, its primary mission is to help women become financially independent. Fouad Shawa is director of the program.
FOUAD SHAWA
The small loans given to women helped in the establishment of successful projects which increased the family's income and improved the economic and social conditions of the family.
VOICEOVER
With a three thousand dollar loan, Fatima opened a small clothing store in the refugee camp. Within a few months, she was turning a profit. Now, she makes enough money to support her family, pay off the loan's monthly one hundred dollar installment and, for the first time in her life, save for the future. Another part of the program is skills training for young refugees. Computer and sewing classes are popular among the women.
FATIMA ABDALLAH ABU KNAR
My message to them is that poverty is not something shameful and women must be productive.
VOICEOVER
Encouraged by success stories like Fatima's, others are following in her footsteps, receiving job training and microcredit loans from UNRWA. Until a solution to the Palestinian question is found, many of them will continue to rely on UNRWA one way or the other. Kamil Taha prepared this report for the United Nations.