The United Nations theme this year for International Women’s Day, celebrated annually on 8 March, is:
"A promise is a promise: Time for Action to End Violence against Women"
March 8 is a symbolic reminder of the struggle Palestinian women face under Israel’s brutal occupation. Living under occupation means that the women of Palestine are exposed to different kinds of oppression, both as women and as Palestinians. The continued repressive measures including but not limited to mobility restrictions, land confiscations, house evictions, illegal settlements, and political detentions impede women’s access to health, education and livelihoods. Women’s employment is centered around the informal market, which suffers from lack of protection and safety because women refrain from crossing checkpoints due to physical harassment and humiliation.* More than half the women interviewed for the YWCA’s study on Birthing in Occupied Jerusalem** also reported that they restricted their movement during pregnancy out of fear of losing residency rights, facing road blocks, and political violence. Moreover, it is estimated that since 1967, more than 10,000 women have been detained by the Israeli forces. All of these violations are in addition to the patriarchal and social restrictions women face in the Palestinian society.
Change needs to happen in our communities, at our neighborhoods, institutions, and at the provincial, regional and international levels. The YWCA of Palestine urges our sister YWCAs, as well as all organizations and individuals working for human rights, to join in addressing the effects of the Israeli Occupation and Violence against Palestinian women. Our governments need to be held accountable for their progress in eliminating and preventing violence against women.
Call for Action:
* A recently YWCA commissioned study “Barriers to Female Labor Market Participation and Entrepreneurship in the OPT"
** "Birthing in Occupied East Jerusalem: Palestinian Women’s Experiences of Pregnancy and Delivery" produced by the YWCA.