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Palestinian Women Make Strides in High-Tech


Abeer Abu Ghaith, third from left, the first female high-tech entrepreneur in the West Bank, talks to other Palestinian women in the village of Dura.

The West Bank's first female high-tech entrepreneur, Abeer Abu Ghaith, has established an Internet employment brokerage and software development firm.

Credit: Nasser Shiyoukh/Associated Press

Palestinian women are joining the high-tech industry, despite many obstacles presented by the economy and traditional culture.

For example, the West Bank's first female high-tech entrepreneur, Abeer Abu Ghaith, established an Internet employment brokerage and software development firm. Her company, StayLinked, helps find work for Palestinian freelancers in translation, data entry, graphic design, online marketing, and website development. Last month, regional high-tech leaders recognized her achievements by awarding her the Women in Technology Awards in the Middle East and Africa for 2014.

The brightest spot in the otherwise flat Palestinian economy, the IT sector could double in size over the next five years and create thousands of jobs. Palestinian women represent a majority of students in many colleges and universities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, but often do not proceed into the job market because of traditional gender expectations.

The IT sector has proven resilient to the conflict and trade restrictions by Israel that have damaged other parts of the Palestinian economy, says Hassan Kassem, who heads an association of IT companies in the West Bank, Gaza, and east Jerusalem. Kassem says Palestinian women are drawn to IT jobs partly because they can work from home without breaking tradition. He expects more women will follow in Abu Ghaith's footsteps over the next five years.

From Associated Press
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