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Source: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
8 June 2016


08 June 2016

On 25 May 2016, the UNRWA Gender Initiative Programme (GIP) organized a closing ceremony for its Gender Based Violence(GBV) initiative “Your Life Is Important to Us” at the Moonlight Hall in Gaza city. Approximately 300 community members, including representatives from local organizations, attended the closing event.

The “Your Life Is Important to Us” initiative was implemented by six women who were selected in consultation with eight Community Based Organizations (CBOs).It included activities such as operetta, open discussions and outreach activities. Through these activities women were promoting messages to prevent and to stop GBV with a focus on early marriage, inheritance rights, work discrimination and sexual abuse.

“Your Life Is Important to Us” is one of five initiatives selected by UNRWA GIP through which a total of 38women were supported to implement their own proposals in the five governorates of the Gaza Strip. All five initiatives were aiming to promote women and community participation in preventing GBV and eventually creating advocacy groups among women. The five initiatives focused on activities like community outreach sessions, establishing blogs or social media groups, and organizing an art exhibition on GBV.

One of the participants at the closing ceremony writes down her recommendations for the initiative “Your Life Is Important to Us” on the board© UNRWA,
2016, photo by Mohamed Yaghi.

The 38 women who were selected to implement these initiatives were supported by 30 partnering CBOs and the GI team in the planning, managing and implementation process. They also participated in awareness raising discussion groups on the prevention of GBV and attended eight sessions on topics including the types of GBV, its causes and consequences, women’s rights and the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), Personal Status Law in Palestine.

Rawan Al Swiesi, one of the women who participated at the operetta commented that “A woman has the right to be educated just like a man, we are equal.” “Through my participation in this initiative, I wanted to have an impact and to achieve equality among men and women in our society," she added.

The discussion groups on GBV were implemented in areas where poverty and ignorance complicate life, especially for women. However, these discussion groups motivate women in these areas to speak up, raise their problems and seek advice. “Some cases talked to us and asked for help,” commented Amal Abu Rekab, Gaza Area Field Coordinator.

Asma Al Zahar shared her experience about a possible employer refusing to hire her because she is a woman© UNRWA,
2016, photo by Mohamed Yaghi.

Asma Al Zahar, one of the graduates who attended the event, shared her experience about the time when her job application was rejected by a possible employer, only because she is a woman.“I worked as a volunteer for three months and the manager was always praising my performance. But when I applied for a job opportunity at the same place, he refused to hire me because I am a woman, emphasizing that he preferred to hire a young man for the position,” she added.

To support community participation in GBV prevention UNRWA GI conducted30 awareness raising discussion groups as a part of the Equality in Action project funded by the Government of Norway. These sessions targeted 522 community members of which 183 were women, 187 men and 152 youth of which 90 young men and 62 young women.

Both the GBV Initiatives and the awareness sessions conducted aimed at educating women, men and youth with the skills needed to address the violence they experience in their homes as well as to prevent GBV in the community.


UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA Programme Budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall, projected for 2016 to stand at US$ 81 million. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance .

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