On the occasion of International Women’s Day, the Democracy and Workers’ Rights Center demands measures to advance women’s rights and achieve gender equality
Ramallah, Thursday 07/03/2019 – On the 8th of March of each year, women around the world mobilize for their rights, following in the steps of the garment workers' strike in New York, where women protested against poor working conditions. Much progress has been made since in promoting women’s rights. In 2015, countries adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes a specific goal for the achievement of gender equality and empowerment all women and girls.
In Palestine, women’s rights violations are magnified by the context of the Israeli occupation. The arbitrary policies and measures of the Israeli occupying power negatively affect all aspects of women's rights, including the right to life, work, health, education, and housing. In particular, Palestinian women incarcerated in Israeli prisons suffer from grave violations of their rights, including medical negligence, deprivation from family visits and humiliations, in addition to their sufferings during transfers between the courts and prisons.
Women also face many violations of their fundamental rights in the domestic context, in particular their labor rights. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the unemployment rate among women was more than double the unemployment rate among men in 2018 (25% of the men were unemployed compared to 51% of the women). The latest statistics available also indicate that women obtain only 71% of men's wages, and that 38.9% of women wage workers in the private sector earn less than the monthly minimum wage, compared to 10.9% of men. It should be noted that women are also subjected to violations of their right of maternity leave and paid breastfeeding hours as stipulated in the Palestinian Labor Law. In 2018, only 43% of women obtained a paid maternity leave. There is still a lack of women’s representation in the trade union movement, with few women reaching leadership positions in unions.
On the other hand, Palestinian legislation still fails to protect women from discrimination, abuse, and violations of rights. For instance, the Palestinian Labor Law continues to put restrictions on women’s choice of occupations and careers, and the level of maternity protection is inadequate. In addition, the Palestinian Labor Law and the Civil Service law need to include a clear definition of discrimination and protection measures, as well as dispositions protecting workers from violence and harassment at work, including gender-based violence and sexual harassment.
In the same context, a global study issued by the World Bank on Women, Business and the Law in 2019, which monitored reforms in legislation relating to various rights that affect women's participation in the world of work, shows that the legal environment in Palestine is inappropriate and hinders women’s work. The study indicates that Palestine still ranks very low according to the evaluation mechanism adopted in the study (with a score of 46.88 out of 100, ranking 169 out of 187 countries). Therefore, DWRC hopes that the year 2019 will be marked by the adoption and amendment of Palestinian legislation that will ensure equal rights to women, and meet the obligations of the State of Palestine to harmonize its legislation with international conventions. These laws should include the Labor Law and the Civil Service Law, which both require amendments, and the adoption of the draft law for protecting families against violence. We also call upon decision makers, relevant authorities and the Ministry of Labor, to take all necessary measures to ensure the implementation of the minimum wage, especially in the textile and kindergarten sectors, and act upon the recommendations of the tripartite wages’ committee to raise the minimum wage based on the living cost, as a first step towards increasing the minimum wage level.