Within the framework of the “Gender Equality in the Economic Sphere: Our Right, Our Priority” project, the Democracy and Workers’ Rights Center organizes an event about best practices of local authorities in creating an enabling environment for women’s work
Ramallah – 20/12/2021- On Thursday December 16th, 2021, the Democracy and Workers’ Rights Center in Palestine organized an event to highlight best practices of local authorities in creating an enabling environment for women’s work. The event took place at the Palestinian Red Crescent Society in Al-Bireh and was attended by 32 male and female participants, including representatives of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, the Ministry of Local Government, municipalities, local councils, shadow councils, and women’s grassroots organizations. This event to highlight best practices is among the activities of the project “Gender Equality in the Economic Sphere: Our Right, Our Priority”, implemented by DWRC in partnership with Italian NGOs COSPE and EducAid, and the Palestinian Working Woman Society for Development, and which is funded by the European Union.
Mrs. Huwaida Ahmed, from DWRC, welcomed participants and emphasized the importance of the role of ministries, local authorities, and CSOs in providing an enabling environment for women’s involvement in the labor market. She also stressed the necessity of interventions at the local level to reinforce women’s economic participation, as well as the importance of exchanging knowledge and experiences in this regard to contribute in spreading them.
Mr. Yousef Odeh, in charge of the Supportive and Guidance Committees “Isnad” at the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, highlighted the role of the ministry, in cooperation with the Ministry of Local Government, in involving women in the “Isnad” committees in local authorities since the start of the Covid-19 Pandemic. Mr. Odeh added: “the ministry formed around 300 permanent supportive committees, consisting of qualified women and spread in the various villages, cities, towns, and refugee camps throughout the various governorates, with an average of seven members each. The “Isnad” committees aim at providing guidance and supportive interventions for all social segments, with a special focus on marginalized groups. The committees, additionally, contribute in creating youth leaders that play a role in changing stereotypes about women’s participation in various spheres of life, and enhance women’s political, social, and economic empowerment”.
Mr. Sayel Hannoun, director of public relations and media at the Ministry of Local Government, emphasized the role of women within the sustainable development process, fostered through a series of programs implemented by the ministry to empower women and reinforce their participation. Mr. Hannoun added “the Program to Empower Women in the Decision- Making Process implemented by the ministry is designed to increase women’s presence in local governance bodies. The program endeavors to develop the capacity of women members in local authorities and connecting them with women figures and leaders, through integrated guidance interventions”.
Representatives of the municipalities and local councils then presented the best practices they applied to facilitate women’s economic participation and empower them. In this regard, Mrs. Tamara Haddad, a member of al- Bireh Municipality Council, presented the initiatives, awareness-raising programs, training courses, guidance activities, humanitarian and developmental assistance that the municipality implemented to support women in general, and women with disabilities in particular. She indicated that they intensified their support during the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, as they created a special fund to support women with disabilities, in addition to holding a weekly farmer’s market at al- Bireh Cultural Center, and holding training courses for women to start and execute small income-generating projects.
Mrs. Hiba Mustafa, the head of the public relations department at Anabta Municipality in Tulkarem governorate, presented the role of the municipality in encouraging women’s participation in economic activities. According to Mrs. Mustafa, the municipality arranged several exhibitions to market women’s products, in addition to other interventions to improve the quality of life for women, including women with disabilities. On a related level, Ms. Khadija Aqra from Qabalan Municipality presented the main interventions and initiatives that the municipality implements to enhance women’s participation in the economic sphere, including women with disabilities. Among these mentioned initiatives, she mentioned a project to create work opportunities for women in cooperation with UNRWA, as well as a Cultural Forum for the youth graduates and a library. Moreover, women were invited by the municipality to participate in preparing the developmental plan. The municipality of Qabalan also initiated a training program for women with disabilities and cooperated with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs to form an “Isnad” Committee in the town. Likewise, Mr. Usama Hamran, presented several initiatives and programs undertaken by Arraba Municipality in Jenin governorate to empower women economically, including assigning a piece of land to implement a women agricultural project, from which 9 women benefited.
Ms. Asmahan Awawda, member of el- Koum Local Council in Hebron Governorate, talked about her outstanding role in developing the local council’s activities and activating women’s role in their community, and this despite a variety of obstacles that she managed to overcome thanks to support of the former head of the local council. Ms. Awawda added that she managed, through the support of the community, in establishing a women’s center in the area, Eathar Center, which is the first center in the area to provide services for women. Youth activist Bayan Abu Fkheida, from Ras Karkar Association- Ramallah, presented her role in activating women’s role in the village. She added that through the activities organized by the “Isnad” Committee formed in Ras Karkar, she managed to recruit the support of the local council for a bazaar for women entrepreneurs’ products organized by her association. Ms. Abu Fkheida added: “the association seeks to support and enhance women and youth initiatives in order to activate women’s societal role, and advance women’s leadership abilities in all sectors, alongside with developing the capacity of rural women to participate actively in public life”.
The event contributed in fostering exchange of experiences between participants, and concluded with a number of recommendations, among them the importance of institutionalizing women units within municipalities and local councils, and considering these units as a pillar of the local governance bodies’ structure. Additionally, participants recommended spreading knowledge about the law governing local authorities among all the local governance entities, and training newly elected women members in order to unify the level of knowledge among all the members of the local governance bodies. Moreover, they recommended to undertake a precise assessment of the needs of women within local authorities in order to reflect these needs in the competent ministries’ plans and strategies.