COOP Champions

Rasha El-Shurafa, ILO Representative Office in Jerusalem

COOP Champions features ILO colleagues from around the world working on cooperatives and other social and solidarity economy enterprises. It highlights their contributions, and shares highlights of their experiences, current work, and future aspirations.

Article | 05 June 2017
Ms Rasha El-Shurafa
After completing her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration in 1998, Ms Rasha El-Shurafa moved to Jerusalem in 1999 to start working in development. After working with the European Commission, Rasha joined the ILO Representative Office in Jerusalem in March 2002, where she currently holds a Senior Programme Officer position.

Rasha has worked in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) for over 15 years, on technical issues ranging from women and youth employment and entrepreneurship, gender equality, standards and rights at work, and inclusive social dialogue, to name a few. In her work she analyses socioeconomic data, country development plans and policy papers, and provides guidance to policy maker. She also backstops the ILO’s development cooperation portfolio in the oPt. She has been particularly active in engaging in the ILO interventions promoting women’s legal, social and economic empowerment in the oPt, including at the grassroots level. In 2010, Rasha supported the establishment of the National Committee for Women’s Employment through which key governmental institutions, employers and workers are currently cooperating to develop gender responsive legislation, policies and programmes with technical advice from the ILO.

Rasha initially got involved in the promotion and development of cooperatives in 2008, when the first ever study on cooperatives in the oPt was launched in cooperation with ILO’s Cooperatives Unit and the ILO Regional Office for Arab States (ROAS). The study provided a firm basis for understanding the cooperative enterprises in the oPt and contributed to the ILO interventions implemented thereafter, including the development of a cooperative strategy and legislation in 2010 in line with ILO Recommendation 193.

More recently, Rasha has worked closely with the specialists in the ILO Regional Office in enhancing the capacity of the Directorate General of Cooperatives in the Ministry of Labour in oPt through improving its administrative functions as well as extending its ability to provide technical support services to cooperatives. This initiative was built on detailed assessments of the cooperative sector in the West Bank, conducted by the ILO in coordination with the Directorate, to identify areas of support for cooperative management, governance, marketing, financial performance, and membership using ILO tools (MATCOM and My.COOP). This process fed into the launch of the National Cooperative Sector Strategy for the oPt in early 2017.

Rasha sees great opportunities in continuing to promote cooperatives in the oPt, while giving special attention to the integration of women in existing cooperatives or the creation of new women-only cooperatives. She believes that the work started by the ILO almost a decade ago is worth continuing, as this has already successfully brought much attention to the cooperative enterprise model, which had previously gone unrecognized by many development partners. Rasha said, “As expressed in the National Cooperative Sector Strategy, cooperatives play an important role in the oPt in providing livelihoods to people and communities. There is a need to further invest in cooperative education and explore new opportunities particularly for women and youth. Continued efforts are needed to create an enabling environment for cooperatives and to promote social economy models that enhance democratic values and reach out to members of the community who are most in need“.