Many Palestinian women do not have the basic knowledge to understand gender and its social ramifications within the Palestinian society. Moreover, many women are not fully aware of their rights, the laws that apply to them, or even the protection instruments available or organizations that can help them in case of divorce, violence or other human rights violations. This is particularly important because Palestinian women in East Jerusalem live in one of the most disputed areas of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, where outbreaks of violence and human rights violations are numerous and happen almost daily. In addition to this, since the occupation of East Jerusalem by Israel in 1967, while they remained Palestinian citizens, they are nevertheless subjected to the Israeli law. Thus alienated from the laws under which they live.
In an attempt to change this, the JCW implemented the project "Empowering Women in East Jerusalem and Increasing Access to Justice through Legal Education", funded by the Canada Feminist Fund (CFF) in 2020. During this project, JCW provided women from different communities with professionally certified in-depth legal training conducted by gender and women’s rights experts.
The JCW selected women from different communities in and around East Jerusalem, mostly already active in women's centers, and in some cases lawyers or students in the field of human rights. Those women received intensive training on gender, and the different legal systems and laws in place regarding women's rights in the oPt, where each territory or areas is actually governed by different laws or authorities. Participants were also trained on CEDAW agreements, and were offered special classes on the CEDAW implementation and challenges in Palestine. Special training on advocacy and communication were also set-up to enhance the women’s ability to speak in public, and leadership capabilities. The JCW expects that this will lead women to become resilient agents of change within their own families and communities, by first understanding gender, its construction, effects and causes linked to the ongoing military occupation, and their interrelatedness to gender-based violence. It is also expected that the paralegal knowledge gained by the women will ease and give them a better access to justice for themselves and others, as they would be able to guide and advise other members of their communities on such complex issues.
To know more about this project and its outcomes, and the training content, the Final Evaluation Report of this project can be downloaded here
On April 5th, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, called for a global ceasefire to end all forms of violence and to jointly fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Following this, a new gender analysis by the UN women stated that "the socio-economic impact of the pandemic would exacerbate gender inequalities and the vulnerability of women in Palestine". UN Women warns that the pandemic is likely to affect disproportionately many women, create and exacerbate existing gender-specific risks and vulnerabilities, and increase inequalities as well. In its response to the pandemic, the JCW has published a pamphlet entitled "The Impact of the COVID-19 crisis on gender-based violence within the Palestinian society and its relatedness to the ongoing crisis of the occupation". In this, women experts in gender and women rights, and activists were interviewed to shed light on the pandemic and its direct effect on gender-based violence in the West Bank.
The pamphlet offers a careful analysis on how the current COVID-19 crisis is adding up to the Israeli occupation and the patriarchal structures already harming Palestinians, especially women, by preventing them from meeting their basic human needs and rights, and erasing accesses to safe spaces. Furthermore, the lockdown measures created new burdens and obstacles for survivors of violence, who could not contact or go to the police or organizations that can help them. Lockdown policies have increased psychosocial pressure for women in the household, mainly due to the economic situation, the upbringing of their children, and the constant presence of their husbands at home.
The pamphlet reasserts the JCW's belief that women can play a central role in the survival and resilience of families and communities. And as stated by the Minister of Women's Affairs, Amal Hamad, "at a time of such great crisis, we must continue to give priority to women's and gender issues”. In the middle of this urgent and critical situation, it is crucial to strengthen protection mechanisms available to victims and survivors of gender-based violence, and to adapt a gender lens in the fight against the COVID-19 crisis and its consequences on the rise of GBV globally, and most specifically in societies like Palestine, where armed conflicts already affects women and girls. To read the pamphlet, please click on the following link: Click here