GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – The Gaza Strip Women’s Affairs Center recently announced the initiation of procedures to establish, with the participation of civil and official institutions, a national network to develop plans to support women in times of crisis and war.
The announcement came during a conference October 7 organized by the Center for Women’s Affairs and in the presence of representatives of official and civil institutions, researchers, academics and activists, all specializing in women’s affairs.
The national network, according to the center, aims to provide shelters for women during and after their exposure to a crisis or war, while promoting their participation in Gaza reconstruction committees and increasing their representation in decision-making.
The establishment of the network is based on the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, which focuses on protecting women’s rights in times of crisis and emergency.
The conference also discussed the repercussions of the recent Israeli aggression in the Gaza Strip, in which dozens of women were killed.
The Israel-Hamas conflict between May 10 and May 21 left 259 Palestinians dead, including 65 women, and injured 2,211 Palestinians, including 752 women, according to a report. report by the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
The Women’s Affairs Center is an independent, non-profit organization (NGO) established in 1991 in the Gaza Strip. It has three main objectives, namely to promote the capacity building of women, to improve the knowledge-based decision-making process for women and to sensitize the local community to women’s rights and the need to achieve gender justice. .
Conference attendees discussed seven research papers that address the issues facing women in Gaza, especially the displaced, the disabled, the injured and cancer patients.
Ziad Taha, coordinator of the national network launch project, told Al-Monitor: âThe women of the Gaza Strip have suffered greatly during the recent Israeli aggression. They have faced death, injury, displacement and the inability to care for their children. This is why we had the idea of ââcreating this national network with the aim of reducing violence against women in times of war and crisis.
He said that NGOs concerned with women’s rights are developing mechanisms to involve government institutions, as well as international institutions such as UN Women, by establishing this network.
The announcement of this national network is a beacon of hope for women victims of the recent war on Gaza, like Mervat Owais, 42, who lost his only source of income during the war.
Owais, who is the sole breadwinner in his family of four, told Al-Monitor: âIsrael killed my husband during the 2014 war on the Gaza Strip, and again he demolished my workshop. sewing and repairing clothes during the last assault in May when he bombed al-Wehda Street in central Gaza City. I have nothing left to make ends meet.
This reality prompted Owais to take his eldest son Mohammed, 14, out of school so he could work in an auto repair shop to support the family.
âThe women of Gaza urgently need a similar network to get the psychological and economic support they need, to have employment opportunities and to get rid of the [trauma] resulting from the recent Israeli war, âOwais said.
Tahani Qasem, project coordinator of Hayat project for the Protection and Empowerment of Women and Families affiliated with the Center for Legal Research, Counseling and Protection of Women in Gaza, which participated in the conference, told Al-Monitor, âOne of the top priorities most important of this national network is to provide specialized and equipped shelter services to meet the needs of women, girls and people with disabilities, and to protect them when their rights are violated in times of conflict and war. they are exposed to violence.
Qasem stressed the need to involve government agencies in supporting women and protecting them from the repercussions of war, especially those who lost their husbands in wartime by providing them with monthly compensation and financial assistance for them. help support their children and obtain the social benefits and economic independence they need.
She noted that the national network will provide psychological and social support and economic empowerment services to women and girls who have been victims of gender-based violence.
For Taha, the goals of the national network will only be achieved when the positions of women in decision-making are strengthened, as this will help to bring women’s issues to the highest political positions in the Palestinian territories and pressure for better lives. women.
According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) last report on the reality of Palestinian women and their participation in decision-making in 2019, which was released on March 7, the participation of women in decision-making is still limited compared to men.
The report states that in 2019, women made up 5% of the members of the Palestinian Central Council; 11% of the members of the Palestinian National Council affiliated with the PLO; 13% of Cabinet members in Ramallah, West Bank, and 11% of diplomatic corps ambassadors.
According to the report, there was only one woman in 16 governors in the West Bank. At the municipal level of the West Bank, there were no women mayors in the areas under the administrative control of the Palestinian Authority (areas A and B). As for the Palestinian municipalities under Israeli administrative control (Zone C), there were three female mayors against 97 male mayors.
The report also indicated that in 2019, 91% of heads of trade union organizations registered with the Palestinian Ministry of Labor were men, leaving just 9% for women. As for the members of the Federation of Palestinian Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture, the percentage reaches 96% for men, against only 4% for women in Palestine.
This low participation of women in decision-making positions is evident despite the higher enrollment rates of women in secondary and higher education compared to men. According to the PCBS, the total enrollment rate for boys in secondary education reached about 73% compared to 92% for girls. Students enrolled in higher education institutions represent 61% of the total number of students for the 2019-2020 academic year.