ISRAEL/OPT: Gaza Women Struggle to Survive Economically, Says UN Study

Monday, October 17, 2011
Palestine News and Info Agency
Western Asia
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 

The Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution under George Mason University hosted an international conference entitled “Assessing the Deadlock in the Nagorno-Karabakh Peace Process.” The event brought together analysts from US, Azerbaijan, and Armenia. The conference was moderated by the Carnegie Endowment's Russia and Eurasia Program Senior Associate Thomas de Waal, reported. More than forty policy specialists attended the event, including several prominent US experts and scholars such as John Macdonald, creator of the term “conflictology,” and Peter Swibberg, According to analyst Arzu Geybulayeva, online disputes between Armenian and Azerbaijani youth very often go beyond the boundary of personal attacks and this is impermissible, since it is the youth who must achieve reconciliation and coexist.

The report is the first UN Women research in the occupied Palestinian Territory looking at Gaza Women's economic survival strategies on behalf of their households in the context of Gaza's protracted crisis.

The research highlights that, despite the critical and growing role of Gaza women in securing their households' income over a decade of crisis, they still benefit from limited economic rights. Access to and control over assets remains a major constraint to Gaza women's empowerment.

As the research indicates, although they have full legal rights to own and accrue property and personal savings, women in the Gaza Strip have faced longstanding disadvantages in actualizing these rights.

“It is critical that interventions address Gazan women's continued lack of access to and control over assets if the expanded economic roles women have undertaken in response to the protracted crisis are to be translated into meaningful and sustained economic empowerment”, emphasized Rema Hammami, professor of Anthropology and Women's Studies at the Birzeit University in the West Bank and main contributor to the UN Women research.

The research, while reaffirming that women have actively sought out and taken advantage of resources and services provided through humanitarian interventions in the Gaza Strip, also shows that the nature of the interventions themselves largely contributed to reinforce normative gender inequalities rather than supporting the process of change due to women's economic survival strategies.

“Who Answers to Gazan Women?” warns that a more just set of gender approaches, challenging women's disadvantages vis-à-vis their male counterparts, is needed to trigger an impact that will last beyond the crisis setting.

During her intervention, the head of the UN Women office in the Palestinian Territory, Alia El-Yassir, declared “this research is a poignant tribute to the courage and tremendous efforts of Gazan women. It sounds the alarm on women's issues in times of conflict and emphasizes the requirement for improved humanitarian response in addressing women's concerns and needs.”

Palestinian Authority officials, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator to the Palestinian Territory, Maxwell Gaylard, and other UN agencies and civil society representatives attended the Ramallah launching of the report.

UN Women is a UN organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. It was established to accelerate progress on meeting women rights worldwide. It is active in the occupied Palestinian Territory since 1997, previously operating as UNIFEM.