This session aimed to highlight the importance of women’s social protection in promoting civil peace and the role of official and civil institutions in ensuring their social protection, along with raising women’s awareness of social protection mechanisms.
Ensuring Women’s Social Protection in the Palestinian society
The Palestinian Association for Empowerment and Local Development—REFORM implemented an awareness-raising session entitled: “Ensuring Women’s Social Protection Promotes Civil Peace,” via the electronic application, ZOOM. This session included the participation of Ms. Saeda Al-Atrash, Director of Mehwar Centre for the Empowerment of Women and Families, and Brigadier Imad Natour, from the Family Protection Unit in the Palestinian Police, along with the project’s beneficiaries and community activists. This session aimed to highlight the importance of women’s social protection in promoting civil peace and the role of official and civil institutions in ensuring their social protection, along with raising women’s awareness of social protection mechanisms.
Financing for this initiative was made possible by the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund (WPHF), a flexible and rapid financing tool supporting quality interventions to enhance the capacity of women in Palestine and around the world working to prevent conflict, respond to crises and seize key peace building opportunities. With technical support from UN Women Palestine, this project comes in light of the challenges that women encounter, particularly in Area C and H2 areas of the Hebron Governorate.
The session was initiated with Ms. Saeda’s discussion on the Palestinian Ministry of Social Development’s role in providing women’s social protection, where she indicated that the Ministry works to protect marginalised groups such as children, women, the elderly, people with disabilities and the less fortunate. Many services are provided for female victims of violence, such as psychological, social and legal counseling services, protection and sometimes financial support. Ms. Sa’eda further addressed the mechanisms that the Ministry of Social Development uses in order to protect women who are abused, especially those who have been subjected to death threats, and the process of how Mehwar Centre receives and handles their cases, especially during the spread of the Coronavirus. Moreover, she discussed how Mehwar Centre welcomes women, who are abused, from 18-years-old and above along with their daughters of any age. However, their sons are only allowed to remain with their mothers until they become 10-years-old, where they are then transferred to one of the Ministry’s centers. The Ministry of Social Development encountered numerous issues from the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak due to their fear of the virus’s spread. In the event that a woman tested positive for COVID-19, then she would be transferred to a secure place, after coordination with the Palestinian police, the Palestinian Ministry of Health and the Palestinian Ministry of Social Development.
The adoption of laws the protect women from violence
Moreover, Brigadier Imad Natour discussed the aim behind the establishment of the Family Protection Unit in 2013, which was initiated due to the increase in domestic violence cases. However, the police only handled 8,500 cases between 2008 and 2013, as female victims of violence feared dealing with the police. The number of cases almost doubled after awareness-raising measures, such as educating women on the police’s role in protecting women and children, were carried out by the police, as between 2014 and 2018 the police dealt with 15,000 cases. He further highlighted that the Unit assists victims as quickly as possible and provides all legal, health and psychological services. Also, he explained that the police provide protection for the victims and hold the perpetrator accountable, at the same time. Brigadier Imad Natour indicated that the police’s primary role is to hold a meeting, after receiving the complaint filed against the perpetrator, then to prepare a file with all inferences, including medical papers and reports, and a risk assessment. All of these factors lead to the decision on whether or not to transfer the victim to a safe house. In addition, he explained how the police created a hotline number (114) that operates 24 hours a day to accept complaints and provide guidance services in emergency cases, especially in remote and marginalised areas. He further highlighted that all cases of violence against women are implemented within complete confidentiality.
The project coordinator, Shireen Al-Hajal, confirmed that there are many challenges in providing social protection for women due to the failure to pass a law that protects women from domestic violence. She further stressed the necessity of women’s institutions and civil society and human rights organizations in pressuring the government to pass the Family Protection Law and conducting awareness-raising campaigns on violence against women and girls. It is also necessary to work to facilitate women’s access to the services provided for them by human rights and women civil society organizations.
At the end of the session, the speakers emphasized that the national referral system ensured the protection of female victims of violence and guaranteed them with the right to be treated with dignity and respect without any discrimination, the right to self-determination and the right to obtain information related to her case. This system also ensures privacy, confidentiality, freedom and security.
ABOUT the project
This session comes as part of the “Women in Conflict Prevention in Hebron – Palestine” Project, implemented by The Palestinian Association for Empowerment and Local Development—REFORM, in partnership with the Rural Women’s Development Society (RWDS) and in cooperation with the Arab Educational Institute. This project aims to increase women’s participation in decision-making processes and enhance the role of both women and men in building safe societies responsive to the needs of women.
The Women’s Peace & Humanitarian Fund (WPHF) mobilizes critical financial support for local and grassroots civil-society organizations working on women, peace and security and humanitarian action. Since its launch in 2016, WPHF has funded over 200 civil-society organizations in 25 countries supporting women on the front lines to be a force for crisis response and lasting peace.