Arabic: العربية

Date: Sunday, September 27, 2020

22 September 2020, Ramallah – The General Union of Palestinian Women and the National Women’s Coalition for the Implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in Palestine, with the support of UN Women, convened a roundtable discussion entitled “Palestinian Women’s Rights between Accession and Implementation.

The roundtable focused on the findings of the report on Violence Against Women and Girls during the outbreak of COVID-19 submitted by the State of Palestine to the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, and the parallel report to the Government’s follow-up report submitted to the Convention’s Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

The roundtable, held at Ramallah Municipality Theater and online (via Zoom) brought together Palestinian ministries, UN agencies, international organizations, women-led civil society organizations, and representative of political parties.

Speaking on behalf of Prime Minister Shtayeh, Dr. Amal Hamad, Minister of Women’s Affairs, said that Palestinian women are facing domestic violence, the COVID-19 pandemic and its social and economic implications, violence by the military occupation, and the “deal of the century” with the threats it brings to Palestinian rights. She said that the Palestinian leadership assigns great importance to Palestinian women’s issues, which it has expressed through joining many international treaties and conventions consistent with the obligations set forth in the Declaration of Independence, the Basic Law and the Women’s Rights Document. The Minister also expressed the Palestinian government’s support for the adoption of laws that guarantee the protection of women, foremost among which are the Family Protection Law, the Penal Code, and the Personal Status Law, in addition to working on amending the Civil Service Law and the Labor Law.

Minister of Social Development Dr. Ahmad Majdalani, said that the State of Palestine is adamant on adopting laws that protect Palestinian women’s rights despite vociferous objection by certain elements in the Palestinian society, stressing the government’s commitment to follow up on the implementation of international conventions and providing social protection for all sectors of society, especially families headed by women. He also called on women’s organizations to unite with the government toward improving the status of women and building a civil Palestinian State.

On her part, Ms. Intisar El Wazir, Head of General Union of Palestinian Women, said that the Palestine report submitted to the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women reveals an increase in violence during the COVID-19 pandemic because of the practices by the occupation, and the lack of sensitivity to gender-based violence by the official Palestinian establishment. She called on the Prime Minister to take all the measures needed to protect Palestinian families from violence, to address women’s economic and social needs, and to ensure justice and equality for women based on legislation that meets the needs of the modern era.

UN Women Special Representative for Palestine, Maryse Guimond described the Family Protection Bill as instrumental for the collective effort to protect women, children, and families from violence, and to support the empowerment of survivors, while holding perpetrators accountable for their acts. She also called upon the government to support an equal sharing of the burden of care between women and men and to address stereotyped gender roles currently prevailing in Palestinian households.

Ms. Mona Al-Khalili, General Secretary of the General Union of Palestinian Women, presented the parallel report prepared by the National Coalition for the implementation of CEDAW in Palestine. She said that the military occupation remains the major impediment to attainment of women’s rights. She stressed that national legislation against discrimination must be adopted in all spheres in addition to a modern civil status law, and family protection law.

Ms. Luna Saadeh, a consultant hired to support the preparation of the report on violence against women and girls amid COVID-19 in the State of Palestine, said that home quarantine led to an increase in the number of women subjected to violence by a family member and in the frequency of violence against them due to the presence of perpetrators at home. She also stated that women with disabilities experienced a double increase in the rate of violence against them. Ms. Saadeh said that closing regular and shariah courts prevented the provision of legal rights to women who experienced violence.

At the event, the General Union of Palestinian Women and the National Women’s Coalition for the Implementation of the Convention launched the CEDAW Palestine Website (www.cedaw.ps), which provides information on the convention, national and civil society reports to the Committee on the convention, advocacy materials and profiles of all Coalition member organizations in the West Bank and Gaza.