Palestinian Women's Association for Development (PWAD)

. Posted in Women/Children/Special Needs

Our Mission

Providing work to the women in order to have their own income and dependence in order not to depend completely on the men. The work that they do can usually be done from their homes.

Who We Are

PWAD is a Palestinian, non-governmental non-profit organization committed to empower the Palestinian women at all levels in society, helping to achieve gender equality, economic and social justice, and to promote a healthy and peaceful living environment for the community. The association was founded in 2001 by a group of dedicated local women who believe in the importance of women's participation in the economic, social, political and cultural life of society as a methodology to achieve sustainable development.

PWAD is located in Beit Sahour in a rented old house within the historical old city of the town and consist of a show room for women production in embroidery and artistic hand made articles and the administration offices.

The project mandate is to serve the Bethlehem district that has three ancient towns; Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Beit Sahour in the southern part of the West Bank at the edge of Jerusalem as its northern borders. Bethlehem District covers a total area of 575 square kilometers. Consist of 3 main municipalities (Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Beit Sahour), 6 smaller municipalities, 66 villages, 3 refugee camps and 20 Israeli settlements that were build on confiscated land and constitute a major obstacle in developingthe municipalities master planning and borders.

PWAD is a voluntary association that mainly depends on contributions from the Board members and donations from different funding agencies. We hope to achieve greater long-term sustainability through income generated projects initiated and implemented by the association.

The current difficult economical situation that resulted from the Israeli occupation obliges us to work on helping the Palestinian women financially as an emergency priority. The worsening of the political situation in the Occupied Territories has resulted in great economic loss. This stems from the restriction on the movement of Palestinian people and goods, as well as mass house imprisonment policies and severe limitations on the entry of Palestinian male workers into Israel. The unemployment rate among Palestinian men has reached unprecedented levels of 63.3% and the poverty rate will soon reach 70%. Therefore the project “Embroidery and handmade works for Palestinian women.” was the first thing to start with. In our proposed project Palestinian women will work in the field of embroidery and handmade works and the association will work on marketing the products abroad.


PWAD was established in 2001 as a response to the pressing need that the founders found in their study to women’s realities and living conditions. Many health centers do not pay serious attention to preventive medicine and health awareness rather depends on prescribe medicine. Health education and awareness was defined by our study as a priority for us to work with. In our view and upon our analysis of the realities of services rendered to women and family we found that most of these service providers programs do not hold a holistic approach of development that focus on empowering women through awareness building in their social, political and economical rights as well as enabling women to loopy for these rights or providing job opportunities for the Palestinian women so as to help them takes their right position along men in the community life.

In the rural areas, most of the women work in their husband‘s lands which means that they take nothing in return, in other words, they own nothing and they totally depend on their husbands' financial support. In addition, there is a poll that shows the increasing of violence against women and children. These social phenomena in the family life has many factors; mainly the inability of men to provide to their families as a result of closing the working market in Israel, unemployment ever increasing rate, and the restriction of movement.

The commitment and awareness of the founders of the problems that the Palestinian women face due to the bad economic and political conditions and their immediate affect on family life and child rearing, we decided to establish an association with mandate that define empowering women and assisting them in taking their destiny in their hands is the only means that respond to the realities on ground and strengthen the role of women in the community life be it economical, social, political and family life.

Our Goals

  • Promote the participation of Palestinian women in social, political, environmental, and cultural life of the community in Bethlehem area.
  • Promote economical development for Palestinian women and their families.
  • Promote preventive health program and health awareness of the Palestinian women and their families.

Program Areas

  • Empowering women’s social skills; awareness of social problems, communication and effective participation in decision making.
  • Health education and preventive medicine.
  • Economy: embroidery and artistic handwork training and opening local and international markets for their, production and creating jobs that woman can earn an income.
  • Women’s rights education as a means of more participation in the political life.

Proposed Activities

  • Holding workshops, training courses and conferences.
  • Develop income generation projects for economically underprivileged women.
  • Provide Palestinian women with better social and health services.
  • Establish a training and entertainment centre.

Organizational Structure and key staff

The board of PWAD is composed of seven highly qualified women who seek to develop the role of women in their country.The members are a multi-disciplinary group of people from different backgrounds and fields of interest and expertise.The members of the Board of Directors are:

1. Maha Abd Al-Maseeh…….Director

2. Fayrouz Baseel Shoumaly...Vice Director

3. Einas Salsa'…………….......Treasurer

4. Kholoud Ghareeb………..General Secretary

5. Na'ele Rishmawi…………Member

6. Majeda Rishmawi………..Member

7. Jihad Jubran……………...Member

8. Rana Abd Al-Maseeh.........Member

9. Widad Kheir………………Member

Maha Abd Al-Maseeh was intimately involved in the founding of PWAD and continues to be its main executive officer today.She runs the organization with help of several volunteers from the community.At this time, the organization is supported by the sale of embroidery projects completed by its women partners and by small donations from community and board members.

Contact Info

Maha Abd Al-Maseeh- Director
Beit Sahour- City Center
Tel: +022775154