Gaza Women Struggle to Survive Economically, Says UN Study

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Palestine News & Info Agency – WAFA  | October 17, 2011

RAMALLAH (WAFA) – A UN Women report discussed the varying coping strategies Gaza women have employed to compensate for their household’s income collapse under the combined impact of Israeli siege, internal political strife, military destruction and ongoing economic blockade, authors of the report said on Monday.

Launched in Ramallah on the occasion of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, the report, “Who Answers to Gazan Women?”, focuses on women in the three main areas of economic activity in which they are predominantly engaged — public sector employment, agriculture and self-employment in the informal sector.

It shows how crucial their economic contributions are in maintaining Gazan households’ survival.

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.


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