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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Perspective: A woman in tech in Palestine

Kathryn Cave, Editor at IDG Connect notes, "We catch-up with Palestinian One Young World Ambassador and technology entrepreneur Abeer Abu Ghaith"

Photo: IDG Connect

“I grew up knowing nothing but war and conflict,” says 31-year old Abeer Abu Ghaith, who has set-up several businesses to help young women in her local Palestine and MENA region. This began with online network, StayLinked in 2013, while last November she launched the MENA Alliances Group Inc. Described by AP News as “the first female high-tech entrepreneur in the West Bank” she also represented Palestine as One Young World Ambassador in Bangkok last year.

“I lived in refugee camp in Jordan for 12 years,” she tells IDG Connect. “I learned firsthand the reality of the lack of resources for living and education at a very young age. Then I moved to live in a small village [in Palestine]. I have experienced three wars so far in my life along with occupation, settlements and hostile settlers, checkpoints, blockades, raids, and incursions.”

Ghaith tells us how checkpoints restrict free movement on a daily basis. “It takes an average of two hours to reach my work 15km from my home – instead of 15 minutes – because of movement restrictions,” she says. “Restriction of movement is the key cause of high rates of unemployment and poverty in Palestine, especially among women.”

One of the core issues as she sees it is that jobs are available in the larger cities but it is not an option for a woman to live alone or be out late at night. “As a result, Palestinian women have one of the lowest rates of workforce participation in the world. Despite this challenge, Palestinian women make up a majority of students in many universities in Palestine,” she says.

“I was often told growing up that ‘a woman’s future is in her husband’s kitchen,” she adds. “But, I believe as a woman I can help change the world in my own way, even in tough situations. This motivated me to finish school with high grades. Then I earned a bachelor’s degree in computer systems engineering and graduated with honors.”

Despite this, she describes a period of two years where she was completely unemployed with no job prospects. “During my unemployment period, I kept taking online courses in my technical area to improve my skills. This helped me to get my first job as an instructor in computer networking at a university.”

Source: IDG Connect