Fadah lives in a village where women's domestic responsiblities often prevent them from maintaining higher-skilled positions outside the community. MEII has offered Fadah numerous opportunities that have allowed her to advance professionally while not encroaching on her family obligations. As Fadah describes it, "MEII provided me with many opportunities that allowed me to do things that would have been impossible otherwise. In that way, MEII has had an impact on my entire village. It has given young girls hope that their opportunities are infinite."
Fadah lives in a West Bank village of 5,000 people. It is a community in which women’s opportunities are largely secondary to their family and domestic responsibilities. Because women frequently marry at a young age and have children soon thereafter, they rarely get the opportunity to attend university, seek out higher-skilled, higher-paid jobs outside the village, or have an independent life that is not reliant on their husbands or family for financial support.
With support from MEII, Fadah has been able to overcome many of the traditional female barriers in her community. She married at age 21 and resisting societal pressures to start a family, she first enrolled in university which she paid for herself. During school, she and her husband had their first child and after she graduated they had a second. Less than 40 days after giving birth to her second boy and despite criticism from others in the village, Fadah began working for MEII in Ramallah. Using public transportation, she traveled two hours daily to-and-from work.
As Fadah puts it, “Working for MEII improved my life in so many ways.” She was able to purchase a car on her own, which she says “was one of the best decisions of my life.” In her village, it is unheard of for a woman to do such a thing without financial support from her husband, father, or another family member. Her life changed dramatically after purchasing the car. Her daily commute to work decreased significantly, which provided her more time at home with family. She enrolled her first son in a well-regarded private school in Ramallah since she was able to drive him there each morning on her way to the office. Equally important, she enrolled herself in a part-time master’s program at a local college recognizing that her lack of a master’s degree would ultimately hinder her opportunities. In so doing, she became the first woman in her family to attend a graduate program.
But this decision was by no means easy. She had to successfully balance her schoolwork with her full-time job and the ongoing responsibility of taking care of her entire family. MEII played a vital role in helping her balance her busy schedule by providing her with flexible work hours. Members of her family were not fully supportive of her decision to return to school; however, with her car and income earned from work, she had the freedom to make her own decisions. In April 2012, Fadah graduated from Birzeit University with a master’s degree in international studies with a concentration in diplomacy.
Fadah has remained a full-time employee over the years and has received additional promotions and responsibilities based on her strong performance. She is now the head of human resources and office management for MEII's Ramallah office where she oversees the 13 person staff. Not only has she been provided a well-paid salary, flexible work hours, encouragement in enrolling in a graduate program while working full-time, but also she has been able to attend training workshops and other professional development courses during working hours.
Fadah has become a role model for other women in her community. Even some in the elder generation, which had harshly criticized her decisions, now point to her as an example for the young girls in the village. If the girls work hard, go to school, remain focused, and manage their time they can do anything they want. When discussing her story, Fadah always returns to a central theme, “MEII provided me with many opportunities that allowed me to do things that would have been impossible otherwise. In that way, MEII has had an impact on my entire village. It has given young girls hope that their opportunities are infinite and it has changed people’s views on a woman’s role in society.”