Gaza's women of steel
Publisher: Al Jazeera
Date Written: 08/03/2017
Year Published: 2017
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX20485
Gadzo interviews three different women in Gaza who have taken on difficult, yet culturally progressive, employment in the wake of the region's economic devastation.
At 42 percent, Gaza has the world's highest unemployment rate - and while the rate of women in the workforce is only 15 percent, compared to 71 percent of men, many of them are trying to close the gap.
More and more women are breaking societal norms and working in jobs that have been traditionally reserved for men as they step up to serve as their family's breadwinners. Al Jazeera spoke with three women about how their non-traditional jobs have changed their lives.
Gaza's female bus driver:
The children first called her "Uncle Salwa".
"The kids thought only men drive cars," Salwa Srour told Al Jazeera. "I broke the traditions. I'm the first lady in the Gaza Strip that drives a bus."
Srour sets out at 6:30 every morning in her 1989 Volkswagen minibus, circling around Gaza City to pick up each child and drive them to the kindergarten class that she opened in 2005 with her sister, Sajda.
Initially, they hired male bus drivers, but Srour decided to take over the job after hearing parents' complaints about drivers being impatient with the children or showing up late.
Class starts from the moment the children enter the school bus, where they begin learning new words in English.
"We would call him, but there would always be excuses. He would always say, 'I'm on my way,' but the kids would be waiting and there would still be no bus," Srour explained.
When the parents started calling her to ask why their kids were not home yet, Srour decided to take matters into her own hands and drive the children to kindergarten herself.
Srour has been driving children to school for five years now. Class starts from the moment they enter the school bus and begin learning new words in English. Stepping on to the bus, the children greet Srour with "Good morning" as they each pull out a shekel from their pocket.