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Source: United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)
21 May 2009

Palestinians react to the economic crisis through women’s empowerment and cultural development

On the occasion of World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, the UN Resident Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), Maxwell Gaylard, officially launched two urgently needed Joint UN Programmes to improve the situation of women and develop cultural resources in the oPt through the promotion of inclusive socio-economic development.

The announcement took place in the Courtyard of the Yahia Mosque / St. John Cathedral, one of the landmarks of Sebastiya in the Nablus Governorate. The launch was attended by the Consul-General of Spain in Jerusalem, Palestinian Authority (PA) representatives, local authorities and UN agencies.

Speaking at the Yahia Mosque / St. John Cathedral, Mr. Gaylard said, “I welcome this joint initiative of Spain, the PA and the UN, and I look forward to us cooperating to support the Palestinian people in their efforts to promote culture and strengthen the position of women in Palestinian society.”

Palestinians are confronting the effects of the global economic crisis, and combined with the effects of the on-going occupation, the population of the oPt, especially women and children, faces particular problems.

Seven UN agencies (UNIFEM, UNESCO, UNDP, UNFPA, UNWRA, FAO and ILO), for the first time united in common programme implementation, are involved in the two Joint programmes. The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) serve as technical leads for these new programmes, in line with their mandates. The two programmes – a total of $12 million – are made possible through the Millennium Development Goals Achievement Fund (MDG-F), created in December 2006 and financed by the Government of Spain.

The two Joint UN Programmes will be implemented throughout the oPt (including East Jerusalem) in partnership with the PA, civil society organisations and the private sector. Both of them adopt a comprehensive approach to gender and culture challenges in the oPt, giving equal importance to policy development at the national level as well as to community participation and empowerment.

The Joint Programme on “Culture and Development” promotes cultural diversity, so as to foster social cohesion and economic growth in the oPt. The safeguarding and sustainable use of the unique Palestinian cultural heritage and support to creative industries are expected to trigger new sources of income and access to culture for the Palestinian people. Through the “Gender Equality and Women’s empowerment” programme the UN agencies will promote Palestinian women’s political participation and their economic empowerment. In addition the agencies will support Palestinian women in their efforts to voice their needs and advocate for their rights.

Both programmes will run until February 2012.

Contact Julien Vaissier, UNIFEM Media and Communication Officer, 05 43 44 23 58

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