Women in Gaza take to social media to promote home-based businesses

After more than 11 days of Israeli war on the Gaza Strip, the hopes and aspirations of many traders, factories and small workshops have been dashed. The constant bombardments and bombardments have destroyed many of them. These owners have now joined many others who have been unemployed since the siege was imposed on the Gaza Strip more than 15 years ago.

Amid high unemployment rates and the ongoing Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip, many women in Gaza, especially recent graduates of Palestinian universities, are trying to launch their own projects, carving out their places on social media in the world. aim to promote their home products – something that has provided them with an income to make ends meet.

According to Social Media Report for 2020 published by Ipoke – a Palestinian website specializing in digital studies – Facebook led the most used social media platform among Palestinians with 92.01% of users, followed by WhatsApp with 76.81% and 63.25% for Instagram.

The same study found that 53.2% are male users versus 64.8% female users. Of these, 86% of users use social media as a source of information, while 43% use it for email marketing.

More Palestinians joined Instagram with a rate of 60.99%, of which 52.3% were women and 47.7% men, the largest part of the users, 18.6%, being between 18 and 24 years.

Like many other women, Hanan al-Madhoun, 36, with a bachelor’s degree in public relations from Al-Aqsa University in Gaza, started her own home-based business to support her family of six. people.

Madhoun makes handicrafts in order to alleviate “the state of poverty in which we live,” she told Al-Monitor.

“I decided to create and make various decorative pieces. I paint on glass. I also make small Ramadan inspired collectibles such as lanterns and musharati figurines (a person walking the streets at dawn during the month of Ramadan beating drums to wake people up for suhoor, meal morning before the fast) and small dolls, in addition to gifts for weddings and celebrations, ”she added.

Madhoun said she marketed her products on her Instagram page, Hanan Artistic, and was able to “deliver customers to Gaza amid the spread of the coronavirus in the coastal enclave.”

Mahdoun has transformed her house into a workshop in the evenings, while she devotes herself to household chores and takes care of her children during the day. It sells its products at prices ranging from $ 1 to $ 45, which it considers commensurate with the harsh conditions afflicting the people of Gaza from all walks of life.

“I work more than eight hours a day preparing and making handicrafts,” she said, stressing that her products stand out for their impeccable finishes and attractive designs, according to her customers’ reviews of her page. This positive feedback “gives me the motivation to keep doing what I do relentlessly,” she said.

Madhoun said that “the ongoing Israeli blockade on Gaza has prevented me from delivering products to many customers in several towns in the occupied West Bank”, expressing the hope that as soon as possible “my products will reach [Palestinians] in the West Bank and among the Arabs of Israel.

The hardest part of Madhoun’s job is the long hours of blackouts and the lack of a store where she can display her products so that her customers can take a closer look.

According to data from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics for the year 2020, the unemployment rate in the Gaza Strip during the second quarter of 2020 increased by 3.6%, reaching 49.1% from 46.7% in 2019, with men constituting 34.5% of the working population against 14.7% of women.

Nagham Skik, 35, from Gaza City, finds himself in the same boat. She graduated with a social services degree from the Islamic University of Gaza with no prospect of landing a job amid the high unemployment rate in the coastal enclave.

“When I accepted the reality on the ground in light of the dire economic situation, I began to seriously think about creating my own project of making sweets and pastries, wedding and birthday cakes. “she told Al-Monitor, adding that she took advantage of her drawing skills to decorate cakes with attractive” cartoons. “

“My products are known for their simple homemade flavor; they’re really not that different from the regular cakes that other women make at home, which has made them popular with my customers who order sweets and pastries daily through my Instagram page, Honey Yum Yum“Skik said.

In response to requests from customers with chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart problems and high blood pressure, Skik makes sugar-free candies made from wheat flour, which has increased the number of its subscribers and its customers. customer base.

Skik also suffers from long hours of power outages, which spoils many of its products which must be stored in the refrigerator. She also complains about the difficulty of delivering to the West Bank.

PCBS statistics for 2019 indicate that the number of Palestinian university graduates reaches 40,000 in Gaza and the West Bank, while the local Palestinian market offers only 8,000 jobs for graduates aged 20-29.

For his part, Moein Rajb, professor of economics at Al-Azhar University, told Al-Monitor: “Given the dire economic situation and the high number of unemployed graduates, many young men and women women are looking for a source of income. looking for traditional jobs and private projects.

“Small projects marketed through social media do not require large amounts of capital and could help reduce unemployment rates. Individuals could also take e-marketing courses online to better promote their products, which is completely different from the traditional sales process, ”he added.

About Madeline Powers

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