US financial assistance to Palestinian women exceeds $13 million
The US government is channeling a substantial portion of its aid to the Palestinians towards women through micro-credit loans, educational programs, healthcare, and vocational training. According to a fact sheet released August 25, 2003 by the US State Department's Office of International Women's Issues, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has granted more than 34,000 micro-credit loans worth over $13 million to Palestinian women entrepreneurs.
Through the loans, thousands of Palestinian women have been able to "transform subsistence-based existences into sustainable, income-generating enterprises" that have facilitated their ability to receive further loans from Palestinian banks.
Also, the fact sheet said the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) has awarded nearly one half of its Palestinian Fulbright educational scholarships to women since 1999, and two Palestinian women since 2001 have received Hubert Humphrey Fellowships worth $50,000 each, reported Washington File.
USAID also sponsors the $27.6 million MARAM Project designed to improve healthcare for Palestinian mothers and children, and has provided three million dollars for vaccine procurement and $465,000 for a food security assessment in the West Bank and Gaza in order to better coordinate relief and development aid, according to the fact sheet.
The United States is the highest disbursing bilateral donor in the West Bank and Gaza with an annual USAID budget of approximately $75 million. US aid given to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and direct assistance to the Palestinian Authority (PA), although not specifically targeted towards women, is designed to benefit all Palestinians. The fact sheet mentioned $20 million given to the PA for the municipal infrastructure, and $305.3 million to UNRWA since 2001 to provide assistance to Palestinian refugees. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)