Date: 16 October 2009
Anata — UNIFEM and the Palestinian Ministry of Women's Affairs, with support from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), organized for the first time in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) an event marking the International Day of Rural Women. The event took place in the marginalized village of Anata in East-Jerusalem, where more than 100 people came to show solidarity with Palestinian rural women.
The Minister of Women's Affairs, Ms. Rabiha Diab, was a special guest at a traditional pastoral breakfast organized by local and rural women to mark the day. In front of an audience of Palestinian Authority representatives, local authorities, UN agencies, as well as women from neighbouring villages, the Minister stated that “the rural woman is the olive of Palestine,” emphasizing the central and fundamental role that rural women play in the development of the Palestinian economy.
Also speaking at the local council building in Anata, where UNIFEM has since 2006 implemented its flagship ‘Sabaya’ programme, UNIFEM Programme Coordinator Alia El-Yassir said: “Palestinian rural women are genuine role-models and leaders, they are the social and economic tie which connects people and holds the community together. We must enable their voices to be heard and to benefit the whole Palestinian society.” She also stressed that Palestinian villages in the surrounding of East-Jerusalem, where the rural population is severely affected by the occupation, should not be neglected.
The women of Anata expressed hope that by observing the International Day of Rural Women, they could draw attention to the deteriorating situation of Palestinian rural women. Indeed, marking the day in Anata had a particular resonance, as almost two thirds of its agricultural land was confiscated by Israeli authorities, and in the aftermath, half of its population (7,500 inhabitants) lost their jobs. “The land was our main resource, we don't have it anymore,” said Nafisa Ibrahim, member of Anata's Sabaya centre, calling attention to the limited options of Anata's rural women.
On the same day, speaking at an event organized by FAO in the Gaza Strip to observe World Food Day, UNIFEM Programme Officer Heba Zayyan called on the humanitarian actors gathered for the occasion to continue their support of rural women in the Gaza Strip, “who work hard to sustain their families and face the threat of losing their land and assets, aside from the problems they face with access to and control over resources such as credit and income.”