On January 30, 2012, Mr. Hashem Shawa, Chairman and General Manager of Bank of Palestine and Ms. Nahla Qoora, President of the Women’s Affairs Technical Committee (WATC), signed a partnership and cooperation agreement, the first of its kind in Palestine between a private sector institution and WATC. Through this partnership, BoP will be sponsoring a number of activities and events carried out by WATC in order to support Palestinian women around the country.
WATC, which was established in 1992, is a coalition of seven women's organizations, three women's centers, and individual women activists. WATC seeks to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women, to develop the role of women in society, and to empower women to assume decision-making positions. The coalition pays special attention to marginalized and less privileged women, particularly women in rural areas and refugees, as well as focusing on women leaders and young potential leaders in order to strengthen their role in the process of national struggle and social change.
“The new BoP-WATC partnership stems from BoP's belief in supporting women's organizations and the empowerment of Palestinian women through developing their cultural, social, and economic skills”, stated Shawa. Furthermore, Shawa noted that this partnership fits within BoP's framework of social responsibility, of which supporting women is a main component. Various agreements have been signed with a number of women's organizations and lending institutions to enable women to work on small income-generating projects and to become economically independent. Additionally, BoP, out of its belief in the importance of increasing women's role in society, set a plan to raise the proportion of female staff in the bank to reach at least 30% in the coming few years, with a focus of raising the proportion of women in senior positions.
WATC expressed the importance of this partnership, as BoP is the first bank to partner with WATC. Through this new partnership, WATC's offices in Ramallah and Gaza will be able to continue defending women's rights and interests, to build and enable active local leaders in their local communities through various training programs,to implement campaigns lobbying for equal rights, and to access marginalized areas and raise the competence of women there.