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Gaza CSOs discuss employment policies and their impact on women with representatives of governmental institutions.

Gaza, 21/12/2021 – On March 20, 2021, the Democracy and Workers’ Rights Center in Gaza organized a thematic seminar on employment policies, attended by 60 representatives of civil society organizations and trade unions, which aimed at enabling CSOs activists to acquire knowledge about specific policies, plans and mechanisms they should refer to or interact with in order to defend women’s labor and economic rights.

The seminar was held in light of women’s situation in the world of work, which for many is characterized by low wages and the absence of a decent work environment, not to mention prevailing legal issues that require urgent attention and the unification of efforts by ministries, trade unions, employers, CBOs and women’s organizations in order to develop a clear national plan that gives priority to integrating women into the labor market and advancing their rights, improving women’s participation in non-traditional professions and reducing unemployment among them, and creating opportunities to enhance women’s capabilities and improving their access to decent work.

The seminar’s participants issued several recommendations, among them necessity of an optimal implementation of employment policies in Palestine to address rights violations in the labor market, especially violations of women’s rights. They also recommended working on re-instating the Social Security Law, expediting the implementation of the minimum wage decision in the Gaza Strip and amending the provisions of the Labor Law, to ensure the provision of social protection for all groups. Furthermore, they highlighted the need to support and encourage women’s small businesses in remote areas, market their products, form qualified human resources, and focus on vocational training and capacity building for women and youth. Finally, they stressed the need to improve prevailing societal views about women’s work and encouraging their economic participation, as well as using modern technology to serve women, and compel the government and the private sector to implement the 5% employment quota for persons with disabilities, increase this percentage, and adapt workplaces, in order to achieve social justice for them.

The seminar is part of the “Gender Equality in the Economic Sphere: Our Right, Our Priority”, implemented by the Democracy and Workers’ Rights Center in Palestine (DWRC), in partnership with the Palestinian Working Woman Society for Development (PWWSD), COSPE, and EducAid, and which is funded by the European Union.

 DWRC’s Gaza coordinator, Mrs. Mona Rostom, opened the seminar and spoke about its objective, and the Center’s vision about the necessity of implementing the National Employment Strategy and the responsibility of each ministry towards implementing related policies, regulations, and mechanisms, as well as the role of CSOs in this regard.

Mr. Amin Assi, the representative of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, who participated remotely from Ramallah, presented the ministry’s plan. He said: “the Ministry seeks to increase women’s participation rate in the labor market in partnership with the Labor Ministry and CSOs; there is a necessity to increase the number of day-care centers and men’s participation in domestic work, and adopt a paternity and parental leave to support women, in addition to approving the Social Security Law, and protecting female workers from harassment in workplaces.” He added: “We need to improve education outcomes by orienting women towards specialties required in the labor market, tightening admission procedures for specializations, providing grants for women, targeting remote areas and protecting workers in the informal sector.”

Mr. Nasser Al-Far, representative of the Minister of Labor, spoke about the role of the Ministry of Labor and the situation in Palestine due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the pandemic’s effects on the world of work and how it has impeded the correct implementation of employment policies, noting that thousands of workers have been laid off. He said: “we must work together to develop the TVET system and support labor market policies. The government seeks to attract funding for all development projects, improve conditions in general, and provide social protection”.

Mrs. Nour Habib, representative of the Fund for Employment in the Gaza Strip, said: “Reducing poverty and unemployment is among the fund’s objectives, and we contributed in providing thousands of temporary job opportunities in partnership with the government and civil society institutions”.

Dr. Salameh Abu Z’eiter, representing trade unions, spoke about the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 8, which concerns enhancing economic growth for all and providing decent work, equality and justice and non-discrimination, and the eradication of poverty. He said: “We must strive to have a society free from hunger and poverty, where peace prevails and human rights are respected, and where working women are empowered and involved in policy-making”.

Mrs. Haneen Al-Samak, an expert on disability issues, presented the situation of persons with disabilities in Palestine, and said: “workplaces must be adapted to the needs of persons with disabilities, particularly women with disabilities, and there must be a focus on prohibiting their exploitation. We must put pressure for the implementation of laws, and activating sanctions”.

Mr. Yasin Abu Odeh, the representative of the Palestinian Working Woman Society for Development in Gaza, and Mrs. Abeer Al-Ghoul, representing the General Federation of Trade Unions, agreed that the seminar had a positive effect for representatives of organizations and trade unions, as it presented and discussed the National Employment Strategy for the years 2021-2025, and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs national plan, which should be accessible to everyone. At the end of the seminar, participants called for formulating the recommendations and working together to send them to all relevant parties, with the necessity of submitting them to the government, especially the Ministry of Labor through its representative.