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Source: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
15 February 2010

Equality in Action

UNRWA introduced the “Equality in Action” initiative to address the needs of Palestinian girls and women in the Gaza Strip. This comprehensive initiative is designed to improve the capacity of women to exercise freedom of choice, take advantage of opportunities for personal and professional development and to address inequality at all levels of social, economic and political life.

Why a Gender Initiative in the Gaza Strip?

Not all women in Gaza today attain or realise their basic human rights. Women’s crucial rights, responsibilities and entitlements are set down in key international instruments such as: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the Convention on the Political Rights of Women; the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW); the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women; the Beijing Platform for Action; Security Council resolution 1325 and the third Millennium Development Goal. It is essential that UNRWA fully addresses these rights.

How Women Benefit

“Equality in Action” activities are designed to:

· enhance the skills of women to improve their access to and opportunities in the labour market;

· raise awareness of domestic violence and provide women with the skills to prevent it and to protect themselves;

· provide women with spaces for social interaction, educational support and recreation; and

· build the capacity of organisations in Gaza that work on women’s issues.

Local Outreach

The following extensive and ongoing community outreach initiatives ensure that the gender initiative is practically and effectively implemented at the local level:

· Focus groups – rural women, young women, women with disabilities, employed and self-employed women and women in the home discuss their needs and concerns;

· Surveys – women, including UNRWA female staff, provide their thoughts and suggestions about internal organisational matters;

· Engagement of local community-based organisations and non­governmental organisations.

Action Plan

”Equality in Action” is an inclusive initiative that responds directly to the self-stated needs of Palestinian women in the Gaza Strip. The following are the focus of action:

· Reversing the current rising rates of abuse within the home, by implementing projects that address prevention of and protection from domestic violence;

· Maximising employment opportunities for women of all abilities and capacities in the UNRWA Job Creation Program and the Graduate Training Program;

· Target women who face particular socio-economic hardships and include them in skills-building and recreational activities;

· Creating space for girls and women to engage in social and recreational activities;

· Establishing educational support units to provide support in core subject areas in addition to career counselling;

· Building the capacity of organisations for women and fostering their co-operation;

· Implementing the UNRWA organisation-wide gender mainstreaming strategy;

· Building on and strengthening UNRWA’s successful Microfinance and Micro-enterprise Programme for women and men through the implementation of a gender mainstreaming strategy.

These activities collectively reinforce UNRWA’s vision of human development for all Palestinians: the realisation of individual, familial and community potential; productive participation in socio-economic and cultural life, and the defence and protection of human rights.


Some 4.7 million Palestine refugee in UNRWA’s five fields of operations - Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are eligible for Agency services, including education, healthcare, social services, shelter, micro-credit loans and emergency aid. UNRWA employs nearly 30,000 staff, the vast majority of whom are Palestine refugees. UNRWA’s operations are financed almost entirely by voluntary contributions from donors. The Agency’s Regular Budget for 2010-2011 is $1.23 billion, which covers the costs of delivering the Agency’s Core Programme in education, health and relief and social services. UNRWA’s headquarters are in Gaza City and Amman.

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