Believing in women economic and social empowerment, BOP has celebrated jointly with the Rural Women Development Society the International Day of Rural Women Wednesday 15 October 2014. BOP’s participation in the celebration has taken place pursuant to the Bank’s strategy for women empowerment toward playing an effective role in the different social and economic sectors in Palestine. BOP believes strongly that Palestinian women especially in rural areas are capable of improving the living standards of their families which will reflect positively on the Palestinian community and economy. The Bank sees that the development of investment opportunities and the enhancement of economic growth can be best achieved through incentivizing women and providing them with opportunities to play a larger role in the economic sector. In fact, food security in Palestine depends largely on rural women, noting at the same time that 70% of the Palestinian society is rural. Hence BOP’s interest and concern with supporting rural women’s economic, social and agricultural projects.

According to statistical data, the rate of unemployment among women in 2013 was higher than that of men, reaching 35% and 20.6% in the Gaza Strip and West Bank respectively. Moreover, the participation of women in the labor force was minimal despite the increase in the educational level of Palestinian women in general. Currently, the number of females enrolled in schools and higher education institutions far exceeds that of males. As a result, BOP believes in the need to provide and adopt large-scale programs to support women and facilitate their engagement in the labor market. As a matter of fact, BOP has taken steps to support the engagement of women in the labor market including gender equality within the Bank in terms of number of male and female employees and fair distribution of rights and duties, as well as the provision of an environment that is suitable for female staff and working mothers.

Furthermore, BOP has worked over the years to raise the number of female employees. By the end of 2013 BOP’s female employees constituted 25% of the total number of employees compared to 17% in 2008. BOP’s aims to bring the proportion of female participation to 50% of the Bank’s labor force, as well as raising the number of women in senior management positions.

BOP empowers women economically by reaching out to all women segments especially business women, entrepreneurs, employees and housewives by way of developing products and services that are compatible with women needs. Moreover, BOP organizes workshops for women and tailors non-financial consultation service programs with the view of raising women awareness on banking to enable them manage the expenses of their families and enterprises.

Finally, BOP contributes to women empowerment through social development. It has allocated a big part of its CSR to Palestinian women with the aim of helping women overcome difficulties of life. For example, BOP organizes awareness workshops for early detection of breast cancer.