Gender issues in Palestine

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Since the early years of the previous century, the Palestinian people have been living under successive occupations resulting in fragmentation of the Palestinian society and a high level of suffering represented in the expulsion of hundreds of thousand of Palestinian refugees, lands confiscation and human rights violations.

As all Arab-Palestinian people, Palestinian women were subjected to killing and displacement. Many women were killed injured or arrested. It is of utmost difficulty to and demonstrates in data from the size of suffering and the real role women have played at the national political community and family levels side by side with men along the different stages of struggle particularly during the Palestinian uprising of 1987, and in current uprising. Women have assumed the responsibility of caring protecting and economically supporting the family when men are being arrested or killed women were subjected to physical and psychological violence during arrests assumed the responsibility of providing psychological support to family members and endured the afflictions of paying monthly visits to detainees under extreme condition. Women also suffered of the consequences of Israeli collective punishments such as house demolition school closure and restrictions on people’s movement between the different region in thewest bank and Gaza strip for worshipping treat and work.

Main Indicators

Fertility rate
Palestine is considered among the countries with high fertility rate, with a total fertility rate at 6.1 babies per woman. Although this rate is high in both the West Bank and Gaza strip, it is particularly high in Gaza strip reaching 6.9 births per woman, compared to 5.6 in the West Bank (1997). The rate differs according to place of residence, at 5.81 in towns, compared to 6.39 in villages and 6.85 in refugee camps. Fertility rates are higher among the less educated women in comparison to the educated. The rate is 6.62 for women with less than secondary education, 5.5 for women with secondary education and 4.72 for those with higher education (1995).

Women’s participation in the labour force
The average proportion of women participating in the labour force during the 7-years period 1995-2001 was 11%, it was 12.3% the highest level of women’s participation during the 5- years period. The proportion of women’s participation ranged between 11.2% in 1995, 11.0% in 1996, 11.5% in the 1997 11.3% in 1998 and 10.4 in 2001. In the census data, women accounted for about 10.8% of the economically active population comparison to 89.2% of men. In spite of

The goal of achieving gender equality in a society such as the Palestinian is still a difficult task…this (political) participation is only symbolic and far from being a quality involvement in the political process and decision-making…

women’s limited participation in the labour force, they have higher unemployment rated than those for men. Women’s economic participation is also limited to services and agriculture.

Women is senior governmental positions
Women’s participation in decision-making positions in the PNA institutions is still limited, at 10%. There is only one woman out of 30 ministers in the cabinet (3%). All heads of public structures and authorities are men. Out of 240 directors general in 15 ministries, there are only 30 women in that position (12.5%). Women do not maintain any leadership position in certain ministries, such as Ministries of agriculture, industry and Public works.

Law stipulations that are equitable for women
There are 29 laws that were approved by the Palestinian legislative council. No law was discussed in relation to Palestinian family and women’s needs, with the exception of the Palestinian labour law, approved in May 2000 (where a special chapter was allocated to women’s labour) and another item related to maternity leave in the civil service law.

Early marriage
A percentage of 36.9% of women married in 1999 were girls under 18 years of age. The percentage for boys was 2.2. In 1997, the percentage of girls married at an age less than 18 years was 40.1% out of those who were married during that year. The percentage for boys was 2.7%. The median age was 18 years for women and 23 for men. Fertility of women in the age 15-19 years accounted for 9% of the overall fertility.

Political and field crises occurring between the Israeli occupation and the Palestinian (as seen in the first and second, current uprising) lead to further marginalization of women. Israeli oppression, closure and restrictions on movement are accompanied by further complications for women.
The goal of achieving gender equality in a society such as the Palestinian is still a difficult task. Women have achieved a certain level of quality. However, the way ahead is still very long, requiring special efforts, political will and essential changes in the type of accomplishments achieved by women in the area of political life, this participation is only symbolic and far from being a quality involvement in the political process and decision-making. Gender indicators can be seen as social constructions develop within a social economic political context. The status of indicators and data is linked to sensitivity of the society and its institutions to issues and prerequisites of gender analysis. As long as the society with its various institutions do not pay enough attention to issues and problems facing women, they will never give particular importance to developing indicators on gender gap. Additionally, developing indicators and data is an outcome of a claims-making process, as certain parties and institutions (such as international agencies and women’s institutions) are active in advocating for gender issues and, subsequently, relevant indicators, while other parties do not pay attention to such issues. International funding plays an important role in stimulating the search in these indicators, although there is a certain level of local awareness of their importance.

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