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Source: United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
6 August 2004



OPT Launches the ICPD at Ten National Report. Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie:
Fri, August 06, 2004


The national report on the implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action in the occupied Palestinian territory for 1994-2003 was launched and presented during a seminar to mark World Population Day 2004. The report summarizes the progress made from 1994 to 2000 in achieving the ICPD goals, as well as the setbacks encountered after that year.

In presenting the Palestinian National Report Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie expressed renewed commitment to continuing efforts towards reaching ICPD goals. He also noted that Palestine has made significant achievements in the implementation of the ICPD PoA, including: the creation of a Ministry of Women’s Affairs to assume responsibility for leading work on women’s empowerment; reduction in the gender gap in the fields of education and job opportunities; increased women’s participation in the political arena; and increased realization of women's reproductive rights.

Additionally, the Palestinian Authority (PA), in cooperation with UNFPA, has implemented several programmes for the provision of reproductive health services and the creation of an integrated statistical system to provide accurate data on population, women’s empowerment and youth development.

The report provides data on ICPD indicators, national responses by the government and civil society, and supportive interventions by international organizations. It highlights PA commitment to developing population policies, particularly those aiming at further promoting the status of women; access to health insurance and affordable, quality reproductive health care; and integration of population variables into development plans (as much as is possible given political constraints.) A substantial part of the report reviews an assessment of the implementation of the ICPD PoA, focusing on: population and development, gender and reproductive health.

In regard to population and development, a high natural growth rate is noticed in the OPT, which can be attributed to the high fertility rate, relatively low mortality figures, early marriage, low female labor force participation, son preference and other factors. National efforts (governmental and non-governmental) to address issues of high fertility have included: lobbying to raise the legal age of marriage; increasing the use of contraception to allow for better birth spacing; raising the literacy rate; passing a law of compulsory education; and other lobbying and IEC activities.

The report discusses priorities and emerging challenges in the area of population and development pertaining to the ICPD PoA with a focus on: legislation and law enforcement; infrastructure; programmes and management; research; information and data; coordination and cooperation; partnerships; and funding. The formulation of a population policy and a plan of action is not feasible since resources remain mostly under Israeli control and the main population issues of refugees, Jerusalem and Jewish settlements remain unresolved.

In regard to gender equality, female and male labor patterns are discussed with a focus on examining how labor markets are restricted and gendered and how other circumstances, including the security situation and women’s other work responsibilities in the domestic sphere, shape labor force decisions and opportunities. Male and female educational patterns, political participation and legal status - as well as elderly females and males - are discussed.

In the area of reproductive health, several government initiatives have brought about notable improvements. The NGO sector has been at the forefront in tackling reproductive health issues with indicators revealing noteworthy improvements in reproductive health from 1994-2000. However, access to comprehensive reproductive health services remains limited, particularly regarding systematic integration of other types of reproductive health services as called for by the ICPD --- such as breast and cervical cancer screening and prevention, and appropriate treatment of infertility. In the area of reproductive rights, the NGO sector has been at the forefront in developing awareness programmes as well as lobbying towards effective change in legislation.

Family planning has attracted considerable support with service providers playing a vital role in ensuring access to family planning commodities and services, and a steady increase in the number of family planning clinics and use of contraceptives. Sexually transmitted diseases and the prevention of HIV/AIDS have also received attention by government and non-governmental health providers through the establishment of service units and training of health care providers. Constraints remain mainly related to the enormous stigma attached to these diseases, as well as the lack of population-based data on the prevalence of these diseases in the OPT.

A variety of programmes and activities are geared towards youth but various limitations remain, especially related to absence of a comprehensive adolescent strategic framework and inadequate information, education and communication activities to mobilize and create a supportive environment for youth services.

During the past ten years, most development policies and programmes which implemented ICPD goals were in the areas of health and education. This is due to the fact that the PA had significant control in these fields, and both NGOs and Palestinian families had a long history of interest and investment in education and health.

The national report outlined unmet needs based on the discussion of the ICPD-PoA related to: reproductive health approach; family planning and STDs; the management of reproductive health policies and programmes; IEC; data and research; mobilization of resources; capacity building; and human resource development. The report concluded with strategies to further strengthen ICPD-PoA implementation based on three scenarios: continued emergency and Intifada, easing of the conflict, and Palestinian statehood.

(To request a copy of this report, please send an email to unfpa.ps@undp.org)

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