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Position Paper: The National Social Policies Related to Palestinian Women Subjected to Violence in Marginalized Areas and Refugee Camps

Position Paper: The National Social Policies Related to Palestinian Women Subjected to Violence in Marginalized Areas and Refugee Camps

Position Paper around the National Social Policies Related to Battered Palestinian Women in Marginalized Areas and Refugee Camps

Palestinian Women and Young Women, Specifically in Refugee Camps, and the Protection Mechanisms in accordance with The National Protection System (the Referral System)

The Charter of the United Nations is considered the bedrock of the International Human Rights Law. It paid special attention to gender equality and non-discrimination, and was followed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, which was a milestone, as for the first time, the world has an official document stating that all human beings are born free “without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status”. The United Nations has adopted ten major conventions related to the recognition, protection, and fulfillment of human rights for all humanity.  

At the national level, Palestinian Basic Law, in article 9, indorses gender equality and non-discrimination based on one's gender, religion, or belief etc. This is iterated in the Palestinian National Charter and Women’s Rights Document. This is in addition to the commitment made by of the State of Palestine through ratifying several international human rights conventions, including the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the two International Covenants, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Accordingly, the State of Palestine has an obligation to align its legislative system with the international conventions it has joined, and to provide the necessary protection for Palestinian women and young women based on equality and non-discrimination.  
Gender equality and non-discrimination are at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals, and they are important goals for the fulfillment of human rights for everyone. These two goals guide the work of the YWCA of Palestine at the national level, as we stive to promote the principals of equality and non-discrimination and the right to protection for all women and young women.  
We strive to achieve progress towards systematically and effectively mainstreaming gender and promoting gender equality, non-discrimination, and the empowerment of women in programmatic activities and organizational policies and practices, in accordance with the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Strategy (2018 – 2021) prepared by the United Nations Office at Vienna – the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, and the results of the Consultative Meeting on the Implementation Framework for the Environmental Dimension in Cairo “Palestine and the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030”, in addition to the National Policy Agenda 2017 – 2022, and the sectoral and cross-sectoral strategic plan. 

Even though Palestine has ratified several international conventions for the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, and several coalitions and committees have been formed to promote the protection and empowerment of women, drastic changes need to be made and there is a great need for policies aimed at eliminating all violations, especially in the absence of the Family Protection Law.  

Statistics related to violence published by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics on March 8th 2019 revealed a high rate of violence in its various forms. It was indicated that 27% of Palestinian women continue to be subjected to violence. This percentage is high compared to the results of the 2011 survey on domestic violence. There has been slow progress considering the work done over the past years.  

This path affirms the general trend towards promoting the principles of human rights, and recognizing, respecting, and fulfilling the rights of women and girls. Accordingly, we present this paper in line with the general trend, the obligations of the State of Palestine, and civil society organizations.  

Women and girls make up half of the world’s population, and that of Palestine. Thus, they represent half of the potential of the Palestinian society. For this, providing protection for Palestinian women is a basic human right, and essential to achieving peace and unleashing the full potential of society. It, in turn, promotes sustainable development in its entirety, which requires taking the necessary measures to ensure protection for women and girls in the society. Therefore, we are about to review and develop the Palestinian Legislative System to promote gender equality and non-discrimination, and create a safe environment that allows all citizens to live in peace and security. 

Official and civil society organizations continue to work towards laws that are in line with people’s needs, specifically the Penal Code, the Personal Status Law, and the Family Protection Law.  

Women and girls’ need for protection cannot wait for the halted amendment process, which is face with an indefinite legislative crisis. Hence, the YWCA of Palestine, as an organization that works in the field of women’s protection and empowerment, alongside several organizations, seeks to develop national regulations and procedures related to the protection of women and girls who are survivors of gender-based violence in all its forms, most importantly the National Referral System for Women Subjected to Violence. 

In our current conception for the system development, we discuss the part related to Palestinian women and girls living in refugee camps, in addition to  women and girls from different groups, including women with disabilities. We look towards bridging the protection gap to ensure that everyone has access to the services of specialized official and non-official organizations and find intervention strategies. The National Referral System for Women Subjected to Violence guarantees protection and care for women in the health, social and judicial sectors, establishes rules and foundations of control, and clarifies the guiding framework for the professional relationship with beneficiaries. This is in addition to forming a reference point and judgment for moral, ethical and professional problems, and clarifying the rights and duties of the service provider and the woman subjected to violence. 
The YWCA of Palestine strives for integrative work through cooperation and coordination, in accordance with human rights references, with official and non-official partners to promote gender equality, and the protection of the rights of women and youth, to shed light on the importance of integrating the rights of Palestinian refugee women living in refugee camps in gender equality policies, empower and protect women, and provide legal, social, and psychological support for women at all strategic interim and immediate levels. 

The association works hard through its programs and national agenda to contribute to providing psychological and social support in refugee camps as free services, and in coordination with the main and secondary sectors operating in the field.  

With the aim of ensuring the needed protection for the service applicants, the YWCA of Palestine has collaborated with practicing lawyers to provide legal consultation and safe referral services in three refugee camps, namely the Jalazone, Dheisheh , and Al Aroub.  

To organize work with partner organizations, the association has adopted a strategic approach to promote the principle of integrative work by signing memorandums of understanding with a number of specialized organizations in providing legal, social, and psychological services, thus facilitate the mission of the researchers and lawyers in the referral pathway, and provide services to the beneficiaries, including women with disabilities.  
Accordingly, we suggest the following policies: 
  • Promoting the concept of holistic social, economic, psychological, political and cultural empowerment as a policy to be implemented within the programs of different organizations; 
  • Adopting the participatory economic empowerment as an essential part of the protection system for women and girls who are survivors of gender-based violence, so that it is integrated within the protection programs, which contributes to positive impact on the lives of women and young women, by moving them from the cycle of fear and dependency and empowering them to fight against violence, and become independent, and fearless. This is accomplished through economic, educational, and human rights interventions and providing legal, social, relief and developmental consultations. 
  • Adopting the policy of follow-up and evaluation by institutions working in the field of protection. We suggest that the policy be included in the program of the mini-national team for the development of the system in order to know the extent to which national procedures, policies and strategies that are based on equality and non-discrimination are implemented. 
  • Including refugee women and young women, women with disabilities, and women in the suburbs of Jerusalem in all measures and actions taken by the State of Palestine, explicitly and clearly, to ensure that appropriate interventions are identified, especially in terms of providing the necessary and social, political, economic protection. 
  • Inclusion of refugee women living in camps and women with disabilities in all protocols of the national referral system for women subjected to violence as well as  in other national systems, including the system of protection centers, in order to ensure protection for them. 
  • Strengthening the level of coordination and cooperation between UNRWA in refugee camps, specifically the units responsible for providing protection services, and the official partner and civil society organizations working outside the camps, in order to provide the needed support and protection all women and girls who apply for services. 

The end

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