On the occasion of International Women’s Day
DWRC demands the adoption substantial measures and policies that will motivate women to engage in the labor market and provide employment opportunities to them
Ramallah, Monday 08/03/2021 – Since the spark of International Women’s Day in 1856, women have continued their struggle calling for equality, justice, protection, and respect for their fundamental rights, as women suffer from clear and continuous marginalization in all aspects of their lives, especially when it comes to their labor rights.
For the past year, women have been on the frontline of the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and its negative socio-economic effects. We would like to express our deepest appreciation and gratitude to health and education sectors workers, and all the women, who have sustained their communities and families.
The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted pre-existing discriminations and violations of rights that women are exposed to. The pandemic led to an exponential increase of the unpaid care work load assumed by women, often at the expense of paid work, in the absence of alternatives and in view of the unbalanced and unfair distribution of unpaid work between men and women.
According to the United Nations, women carry out at least two and a half times more unpaid household and care work than men worldwide. In Palestine, national statistics showed that 42.5% of men participate in providing care for children, the elderly, sick and incapacitated family members, compared to 94.8% of women. These burdens consume more time if the woman is working.
Measures taken by Palestinian authorities to contain the spread of the pandemic appear to have had a greater impact on working women than men in terms of absenteeism from work. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) quarterly labor force surveys, 43.3% of women were absent from their work in the 2nd quarter of 2020, 26.6% during the 3rd quarter and 7.4% in the 4th quarter, compared to 27.2%, 10.4% and 5.9% respectively for men. During the same year, women’s participation in the labor force was 16% of all working-age women compared to 65% among men. Women with disabilities are among the most marginalized groups, especially when it comes to their right to work. Statistics showed that only 2% of women with disabilities participate in the labor force in Palestine.
Unemployment rates among women, who participate in the labor force, was 40% compared to 23% among men in 2020. Women youth graduates, who hold an intermediate diploma and above, were among the categories most affected by unemployment, as unemployment rates reached 69% among young female graduates, compared to 39% of male graduates.
Even if women find a job opportunity, they are exposed to discrimination in wages. 25% of women working in the private sector obtain less than the minimum wage. In 2019, women working in the private sector obtained 71.9% of men’s wages (according to the daily wage). According to the Democracy and Workers’ Rights (DWRC) report on “The Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic and Containment Measures on Palestinian Women Workers in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip”, a large percentage of women surveyed had been subjected to violations related to wages. Most respondents to the questionnaire indicated that they stopped working; 29.2% were not paid their wages at all during the first three months of Covid-19’s spread. As for maternity leave, 40% of women were deprived of their right to a paid maternity leave in 2020 according to PCBS.
DWRC calls for the adoption of substantial measures and policies that will motivate women to engage in the labor market and provide job opportunities to them, striving to eliminate gender-based discrimination. We also call for interventions that enable women to obtain employment in decent conditions, or earn a fair and continuous income. We hope that the new national employment strategy launched by the Palestinian government will be a road map for allocating resources and developing interventions towards improving women’s situation in the labor market and supporting them in breaking the barriers that prevent a radical change in the realization of their economic rights.
Join us in our national awareness campaign in Palestine about Women’s Right to Work through sharing your messages and demands by using the following hashtag:
(share your message and support equality and women’s right to work)