Date: Tuesday, July 21, 2020
On 9 July 2020, UN Women and the General Union of Palestinian Women held a virtual ‘Open Day’ on Women, Peace and Security in Palestine. The event, held for the fifth time in ten years, provided a platform for Palestinian women civil society leaders, senior government and UN officials to discuss the challenges in implementing the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325) on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) in Palestine twenty years after its adoption. The event was generously funded by the Government of Norway through the programme ‘Advancing the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in Palestine.’
The online event brought together more than 150 participants, including the Palestinian Minister of Women’s Affairs Dr. Amal Hamad, Member of the Executive Committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and Founder of the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH); Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov; Dr. Moez Doraid, UN Women Regional Director a.i. for the Arab States, Michael Lynk, Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory; Gwyn Lewis, UNRWA Director of Operations in the West Bank, as well as Palestinian women peacebuilders and activists, including the General Union of Palestinian Women and members of the National Coalition for Implementing UNSCR 1325.
The Open Day proved to be a timely opportunity to reflect on the challenges facing Palestinian women in implementing the WPS Agenda. In addition to the pre-existing inequalities entrenched in Palestinian society and the ongoing Israeli occupation, Palestinian women are now facing the threats of the COVID-19 pandemic and annexation which could deliver a fatal blow to the fading prospects for peace.
Among other things, the participants agreed that the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 was already taking its toll on Palestinians, and particularly women. In this already difficult situation, any Israeli unilateral move could have catastrophic consequences for the Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority. They agreed that during the current crises, the participation of women in all political and decision-making processes becomes even more urgent.
In his introductory remarks, Norway Acting Representative in Palestine Erling Hoem stressed his country’s commitment to advancing the WPS agenda in Palestine and to working for the meaningful inclusion of women in every phase of peace and state building processes.
Dr. Hanan Ashrawi explained the negative political and socioeconomic impact annexation would have on Palestinian women and how it would subject them to more violence and marginalization. Moreover, Dr. Ashrawi urged the Palestinian society to reject the notion that women’s rights are contrary to religions and traditions.
H.E. Minister of Women’s Affairs Dr. Amal Hamad highlighted the government’s efforts to support the implementation of UNSCR 1325, including its commitment to issue the 2nd generation of the National Action Plan (NAP) and submitting a report on the implementation of the 1st generation of the NAP.
UN Special Coordinator Mr. Nickolay Mladenov highlighted the gendered impact of the pandemic in Palestine and stressed that the WPS agenda remained a priority for the UN. He also stated that “annexation by Israel of parts of the West Bank would constitute a serious violation of international law and would inflict a devastating blow to the Israeli-Palestinian relations and the two-state solution”. He added that “the resumption of negotiations was the only way to reach a peaceful solution to the decades-long conflict”.
“As the 20th anniversary of UNSCR 1325 approaches in an increasingly volatile political situation compounded by the threat of an Israeli annexation and COVID-19’s shocks and disruptions, the meaningful participation of Palestinian women in decision-making and political processes becomes as urgent as ever,” said Maryse Guimond, UN Women Special Representative for Palestine.
Based on the Open Day discussions, UN Women will develop a policy brief that summarizes the main recommendations to be shared with different WPS national and international actors and to inform future advocacy and programming initiatives.