Occupied Palestinian Territory: Gender equality and women's empowerment in the OPT
Women in the Occupied Palestinian Territory suffer from high levels of poverty and unemployment, with women refugees particularly vulnerable. The rate of female participation in the labor market in the West Bank and Gaza stood at 13.4 % in 2006, half the average rate in Arab countries and one of the lowest in the world. The Joint Programme promoted Palestinian women's social, economic and political empowerment and worked to reduce gender-based violence by encouraging women's political voice, increasing their opportunities to obtain decent and productive work, and improving their access to protection and justice.
Six UN agencies worked with partners from civil society, the private sector and governmental institutions, using a rights-based approach and operating on three strategic levels: grassroots, sub-central and central government.
Activities were implemented through a two-tier process by linking research with policy action to improve service provision of the Palestinian Authority, its institutions and civil society organizations (CSOs), and by developing sustainable institutional capacities and encouraging innovative projects.
- Formative research and lessons learned;
- Capacity building of key institutions and organizations that advocate for gender equality, deliver gender-sensitive services and monitor progress towards the MDGs; and
- An innovative mass media and communication campaign to raise popular support for gender equality.
The programme also featured skills training and counseling, increased access to credit and women's leadership development.
Among key achievements:
- The first ever Violence Against Women (VAW) Strategy was drawn up and endorsed by the Palestinian Cabinet.
- Interministerial coordination mechanisms were established to strengthen gender policies across first line ministries (health, education, justice and labor).
- The programme supported the institutionalization of research and knowledge-based systems on gender-based violence (GBV) and VAW with the aim of providing policy makers with more evidence-based data on how to reduce GBV and tackle VAW. The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics strengthened capacities for producing gender statistics, including a baseline of gender based violence and progress toward MDGs. A Monitoring & Evaluation Unit was established within the Ministry of Women's Affairs.
- The National Committee on Women´s Employment was established as an advisory body to the Minister of Labor. Its mandate is to advocate for gender-sensitive policies, legislation, capacity-building interventions, a social safety net for women workers and a healthy work environment.
- The Participatory Gender Audit was conducted within several institutions and private sector companies in order to promote organizational learning at the individual, work unit and organizational levels on how to practically and effectively mainstream gender.
- Training courses were conducted for 36 judges, 137 lawyers, 20 prosecutors and fourth year law students at Birzeit University in Ramallah, which initiated a remarkable shift in the attitudes of training participants towards using gender sensitive trial processes guaranteeing the freedom of speech for women and making them more aware of their legal rights under the Sharia law.
- The programme established the Hayat Center, the first-ever integrated shelter and facility to reduce violence against Palestinian women in Gaza. It also strengthened capacities to provide refuge, security and basic services through training sessions for 150 front health providers in Emergency Units, primary health care and district clinics.
- To increase employment opportunities for low-income women and female graduates, 43 micro- and small business were created for the most vulnerable women, 51 permanent employment opportunities were created, and about 700 cooperatives were established in the West Bank.
- The programme developed and implemented a Media and Advocacy Strategy on gender issues for the very first time in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including: a sensitization workshop for senior journalists; a first-of-its-kind TV talk show (12 episodes); a website version of the well-known Voice of Women newspaper supplement (six issues); and joint media campaigns run in Gaza. The awareness raising campaigns reached more than 19,00 women, nearly 4,300 men and 8 religious leaders in 19 refugee camps across the West Bank. In for Gaza, almost 19,500 women and more than 1,650 men were reached.
Click for more detailed results from the Joint Programmes in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.