Four Female Students are on the Road to Becoming the First Renewable Energy Technicians in the West Bank Stories

8 March, 2021

Afnan, Ghena, Shaima and Zeinab will become the first female renewable energy technicians in the West Bank. They are breaking barriers and building a more inclusive society. For their generation and generations to come, they have become role models motivating other women to pursue technical education and employment.

This breakthrough was made possible with support from Generating Revenue Opportunities for Women and Youth (GROW) project, implemented by Cowater International and funded by Global Affairs Canada. The project aims to enhance economic empowerment and increase prosperity for low-income women and youth in the West Bank.

In 2020, GROW in collaboration with the Hisham Hijjawi College of Technology of An Najah University, granted four scholarships to female youth to encourage their enrollment in a two-year diploma program in renewable energy engineering.


 The decision to enroll in this unique specialization was a difficult one for the 18-year-old Afnan Abu Ariesh from Al-Ein Refugee Camp in Nablus. Every so often, she was told how this field is deemed for men. Believing that interior design provides a more suitable career choice for girls, her family was encouraging her to study that instead.

Afnan Abu Ariesh enthusiastically explains, “When I first heard about the renewable energy specialization, I researched it online and learned more about the topic, and I liked it a lot. At first, I faced some resistance, as the field is dominated by male youth. But I wanted to challenge myself and challenge those around me. I will hopefully be up to this challenge”.

GROW’s scholarship was an important factor to gain Afnan family’s support. Afnan believes that because this field is novel, she will have better job opportunities. She also aspires to invent her own renewable energy projects.

Afnan Abu Ariesh, 18 years old, Nablus



Coming from a household of ten members, the 18-year-old Shaima Shalabi is the first person in her family and in the district of Salfit who had the opportunity to enroll in this specialization.

Without GROW’s scholarship, Shaima would not have been able to access higher education due to her family’s difficult financial situation. She highlights, “Those who mostly encouraged me were my father and my uncle. They are waiting for my graduation to install solar panels at home. Since currently few women enroll in this specialization, I will have better job opportunities.”


Shaima Shalabi, 18 years old, Salfit


Ghena Shanti is a 29-year-old student from Qalqiliya. Ghena’s journey leading up to making the decision to further her education in renewable energy has not been an easy one to say the least. Ghena struggled throughout the past years to get out of a difficult relationship that prevented her from pursuing any educational or professional career advancement. To compensate this gap, Ghena started to get involved in various community voluntary activities, which provided her with a sense of purpose. When she finally had the courage to pursue higher education, her university application was rejected several times because her high school degree was outdated.

For Ghena, GROW’s scholarship will pave the way to a brighter future. Upon earning her diploma, she plans to transfer to An Najah University to earn a bachelor’s degree in renewable energy, while working in this field.


Encouraged by her brothers, the 17-year-old Zainab first enrolled in university to study Information Technology. But when she heard about GROW’s scholarship and the renewable energy field, she was motivated to shift her field of study. Zainab says, “Renewable energy is the prospect for a better future. It is a non-traditional field that could potentially open new opportunities for Palestinian women.”

After completing this diploma, Zainab aspires to pursue her bachelor’s degree in this field.


Zainab Shakaa, 17 years old, Nablus

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