Businesswoman challenges traditions in Palestine

A successful company in Palestine has set a precedent in becoming the first firm to be headed by a female in the Muslim country.

The stock market is a land heavily dominated by men. Women are a rare sight on the trading floor, even in Western countries, not to mention the even more conservative Arab world.

Nonetheless, Ruba Masrouji, from the city of Ramallah, has become the first female head of a brokerage company in Palestine.

“The road to success was a difficult one. It was hard for many men to put up with a female presence in business, but now I can say I deserved it,” Ruba Masrouji said.

Her story has inspired women trying to break away from the austere rules of religious society. She now employs several women in her company, and men it seems are slowly coming to grips with the new reality.

“You could often see women in various managerial positions. My boss is also a woman, and we are getting on quite well,” Salam Zohod, manager of a bank, said.

Regardless of the boardroom sessions and client meetings the chief executive is still very much a woman in a man’s world.

“Once I get home, I become mother and wife. I still have enough strength for household chores and for my husband,” Ruba Masrouji said.

So what do Palestinian men think about the example that makes their wives more confident and financially independent?

“It’s great that a woman can succeed in running a business as well as a family. It’s becoming a trend in our society, which is a positive sign,” broker Mohamad Elbarq said.

Maybe more women in leading positions are what Palestinian society now needs to solve the long-standing economic and political issues.

One thing Ruba Masrouji knows for sure is that it will only be through equal rights and opportunities that will keep her company and her nation united.