UNITE! Activism to End Violence Against Women and Girls.
The 16 days Campaign of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) ends today. National campaigns to combat GBV are very important for the Palestinian society. It is a tool to mobilise sustainable change towards women's issues in Palestine, specifically in light of all the injustices that Palestinian women undergo on a daily basis. Palestinian women are subjected to GBV on the political, social and economic level. 

REFORM recently conducted a study entitled "The Cultural and Structural Values: Patriarchal Attitudes and Power Relations that May Contribute to GBV in Palestinian Society." We surmised that women and girls in Palestinian society are exposed to various types and levels of violence. Despite shifts and changes in attitudes toward GBV in Palestinian society, it is still based on many factors including social, economic, educational background,  geographical location and economic conditions. Some attitudes and beliefs about the division of labour between the sexes remain prevalent. This affects the rights and duties of women and men in Palestinian society while also influencing the violence they may face.

Expectations of gender roles in Palestinian society and attitudes toward gender equality are inequitable. It is distinguished when discussing men's and women's different rights in society based on the gender assumptions and the entitlement of those rights. These attitudes create discrimination towards the rights of men and women before or after marriage. It distinguishes between a man's right to life and a woman's right to life. This social culture limits women's relationships with their husbands, access to the labour market and political participation. The limitations are directly related to gender roles stereotypes, assuming women's subordination to men and their lack of decision-making power. As a result, breaking social norms exposes women to blame and punishment while justifying the violence inflicted on them.

According to this study, one of the causes of violence against women and girls is social norms, including gender inequality and unequal power relations between men and women. 

The report found a direct correlation between social norms and violence against women in Palestine. This creates a state of stability in complex and unequal power relations based on gender. The relationship is reflected in the patriarchal culture and is demonstrated in the constant male control over females. As a result, girls submit to early marriage and behave according to the social norms found in their homes. This includes complete obedience to the husband and adherence to social norms in public including opportunities, jobs and education. Various forms of violence are legitimised by some social norms, depending on the supposed power relationship between the sexes.

Based on the above, we believe that ending violence against women and girls requires strategies that target the following:
1. Social transformation of prevailing social norms
2. Empowering women intellectually, socially, economically and politically
3. Empowering men intellectually, socially, economically and politically
4. Providing protection for victims of gender-based violence
5. Involving males in empowering women and encouraging positive deviation among males towards their relationship with women.

Finally, actions to transform the patriarchal system require collaborative efforts among various parties. This includes the government, civil society, the private sector and the religious establishment. Change requires an integrated and multi-faceted approach when addressing gender inequalities and power relations.

The violence discussed here does not only constitute the complete burden on Palestinian women. One must read into the Palestinian women's sufferings from the structural forms of violence that result from the Occupation and its suppressive measures. Palestinian women undergo complex suffering that severely impacts their physical, psychological and social beings. Like all members of society, Palestinian women lack stability, a sense of security, freedom of movement and the right to self-determination. They are at risk of being arrested, targeted or physically harassed by the Occupation. The combination of burden arises from women having to face violence from within their own societies while also facing the violence of the Occupation, which also targets all the Palestinian society.

Our interventions must target men, women, boys and girls in order to promote participation and equality in the public and private life while addressing family interests and Palestinian values.
We call to our partners to join forces to end GBV.
We are UNITE! Activism to End Violence Against Women and Girls.