The Gaza Women’s Yoga and Circus Hub, combines an empowering and holistic approach to health, fitness and wellbeing together with the opportunity to learn a range of exciting and enjoyable new skills in a cooperative and safe social and physical environment.
There is a near total absence of access to recreational and sporting activities for women and girls in Gaza and there are few interventions to provide girls with recreational activities outside of the home.
The Hub is a space where women and girls can build relationships, trust and a sense of a supportive community, without barriers of age, ability, class and ethnicity.
Social circus emphasises the interconnectedness of mind and body and gaining physical strength can influence other aspects of one’s life unconsciously and can affect our personal view of ourselves as women in this world. Participation in social circus projects gives participants greater self-knowledge, technique in a new skill and a sense of achievement within a positive atmosphere, based on community, encouragement and teamwork.
Yoga has been found to be an effective posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) treatment for a variety of trauma survivors, especially with a focus on breathing techniques, meditation and mindfulness.
A wide variety of circus skills and yoga classes are available, from juggling and hoola-hoop, to aerial acrobatics, hatha yoga and meditation which means there is always an available option to fit any physical ability and gives participants a range of choice.
The focus on yoga and meditation along with these skills, will allow a holistic approach, which connects the body and the mind, underscoring the need for wellbeing and self-care.
The project was started in February 2018 and currently we are conducting a six-month pilot project, where we are training 31 women to be yoga and circus instructors. The women participating in the training for trainers are qualified in the fields of psychology, physiotherapy, social work and sport.
Unemployment in Gaza in the highest in the world at around 40%, and 80% of the population rely on humanitarian aid. During the course of the six months the aim is for the women to not only learn these new skills, but also how to share them, and to begin teaching classes to other women and girls in Gaza. All classes will be offered free of charge to participants, and the women on the training for trainers will receive a stipend for trainings, and also for any classes which they teach, creating an economic empowerment opportunity also.
We hope to continue this project, helping these trainers develop their technique and skill, and increase the number of classes offered so that women and girls in Gaza can improve both their physical and mental health in a fun and safe environment.
AISHA Association for Woman and Child Protection is currently implementing the project. Established in 2009, it is an independent Palestinian women organization working to achieve gender integration through economic empowerment and psychosocial support to marginalized groups in the Gaza Strip with focus on Gaza City and the North area.
To improve Palestinian Women and Girls mental and physical wellbeing.
Expected Results for Pilot Project
(February - July 2018):
Women and girls in Gaza have improved physical and mental health (through sharing and learning new skills).
At least 30 women become trainers in Gaza, in circus skills, yoga and meditation, who will share their skills with new members, and younger generations
There is recognition of the importance of safe recreational spaces for women and girls.