Results: How HATD has affected women’s leadership (interviews)
The first woman I interviewed has been with her non-governmental organization (NGO) for nineteen years. She manages workers, counselors, hospitals, and municipalities. She also teams up with other NGOs. She handles new partnerships with the local government and is in charge of operating programs. She works with the central government and the Ministry of Health to help create a national plan of action.
She stated that having HATD’s assistance has given her the foundation to serve her clients in impactful ways. She has been working with volunteers for many years. The project with HATD has taught her how to function more effectively, to define goals and to be more visible in the community, which in turn has led to the success of the program. With HATD’s backing, she has felt truly supported and engaged, which has made it possible for her to deal with challenges in positive ways.
The second woman I interviewed has been working in her NGO for twenty-five years. She frequently engages with the Ministry of Health and other directors of ministries, businesses, and commercial companies to build the NGO and bring knowledge about the target audience to the community. She also deals with the marketing and digital side of the organization.
She says that HATD has been an amazing partnership. It was the first time she was able to learn how to work with an organization that pulls its weight in a project and is a true teammate. She had dealt with funders previously, but the experience was not the same. HATD has taught her new ways of working with a donor and how to cooperate to solve problems. The leadership of HATD has kept their word in what they promised to help with since the beginning. She also agrees that she learned new leadership skills while partnering with HATD.
The third woman I interviewed has been directing her NGO for eighteen years. Over this period, she has served as a liaison to the current manager, has been responsible for training, developing projects and ideas, mobilizing resources, and implementing, evaluating, and submitting reports. She also has been in charge of expanding membership in the organization and working with local, national, and international communities and organizations.
HATD has been supporting her organization for the past three years. There is no doubt that its involvement has had an impact on her as a leader in the organization, mainly in strengthening cooperation tools and assessment tools, as well as expanding the membership/ leadership network within the organization. In addition, it has served as a reference tool for the organization and a link to the community.
The fourth woman I interviewed has worked briefly for her organization as Director of the HATD project. The project educates and implements activities for men, women, and families with a chronic illness. Before coming to the organization, she was a volunteer for years with a women’s center in a village where she lives. She has a university degree; however, she worked at home for years raising her children. Now that she is employed outside the home, she feels more empowered and that it is important to take care of herself. Until very recently this organization was made up of only men. The fact that a woman is now leading it demonstrates her strength as a leader.
The fifth woman that I interviewed is a coordinator in the organization that oversees an HATD-funded initiative. She explained that she married young and didn’t finish school. She later went back and graduated from high school and college and then became a social worker. She volunteered at a camp in her village and worked as a volunteer in a variety of institutions. Now she is a teacher of groups of women. She thinks that feeling proud as a mother and woman while employed is important and sets an example for other Palestinian women. Both leaders from the chronic disease program encourage other women to participate in activities, meetings, exercise, awareness, and camps for children.
Because of the support that HATD has given to the NGO, both of these women have more responsibilities than when they previously worked as volunteers. In the beginning, they said, it was good to be a volunteer, but now they feel empowered because they are earning their own salary and making decisions within the organization. One of the biggest wins for them as women leaders was the reaction of men on the board; after witnessing their success in this project, they now look to them for advice and opinions. The women were even invited to join the board, which, as employees of the organization, they cannot do. However, they are proud to be leading the way and setting an example for women to come.
The sixth woman that I interviewed, with fifteen years’ experience in her organization, works in the areas of training, educating, teaching at universities, and as a consultant to organizations. As a consultant for psychosocial support for women and children, she strives for the prevention and empowering awareness of women’s abuse in the OPT. Besides holding workshops for men, women, and mothers and overseeing many volunteers, she engages with other women’s associations and advocates for family law protection, for the change and implementation of the law to benefit women.
The all-male advisory board of her organization invites her to their meetings. They seek her out and look to her for advice because they believe in her and her decisions and planning. This woman consults with an organization concerned with violence against women in the OPT. Her leadership position has enabled her to communicate the needs of abused women at the shelter and to transfer ideas about how to deal with them to the board.
I personally left all of these interviews feeling empowered by these women, impressed by the leadership positions that they achieved and have held over the last twenty years. It is clear that HATD has made sustained efforts to increase the leadership skills of these women, helping them to acquire the skills to face adversity in a positive way so that they and their organizations can be successful. All six women I interviewed expressed gratitude for HATD’s guidance in learning leadership skills, encouraging their growth as individuals and in their organizational roles.