The Palestinian Association for Empowerment and Local Development—REFORM, in partnership with the Palestinian Ministry of Justice, implemented a workshop entitled: "Women in Arbitration: Reality and Hope" on Sunday, 27th November 2022, in Ramallah. Arbitrators, accredited by the Ministry of Justice, legal experts, representatives of women's organisations and activists participated in this workshop.

The workshop aimed to discuss the reality of arbitration and the judiciary in Palestine and its impact in enhancing the access of vulnerable groups, especially women and children, to justice by examining mechanisms that enable women to participate in arbitration. During the workshop, the participants highlighted the challenges that hinder women’s participation in alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and the reality of societal and professional cases, in that weak capabilities do not constitute an obstacle for women to work in ADR.

The workshop included several interventions and a discussion amongst the participants, where Mr. Hammam Melhem, Director of the Arbitration Department at the Ministry of Justice, indicated that "the representation of women in the judicial sector is very weak, i.e., 18%, while in the field of arbitration, the percentage is low, reaching 15 women arbitrators out of 180 arbitrators accredited by the Ministry of Justice.

The workshop concluded with the following recommendations:
1. Sign a partnership agreement with media agencies and institutions to spread awareness and education about the importance of women’s role in society in general, enhance their scientific status and enable them to carry out arbitration, mediation and dispute resolution tasks.
2. Address institutions, bodies and law faculties in Palestinian universities to establish an institute or diploma programme in arbitration to support and provide expertise to the Ministry of Justice. Additionally, to allocate compulsory courses focusing on alternative means of dispute resolution for students within the faculties of commerce, engineering and law.
3. Provide financial resources to train arbitrators and those interested in this field of work.
4. Develop a special criterion that examines the selection of applicants for accrediting arbitrators that does not deprive qualified women with expertise.
5. Emphasise the role of legal clinics in Palestinian universities in promoting the participation and development of women’s capacities, especially in the field of alternative dispute resolution.
6. Stress the importance of enhancing women’s role in arbitration in the Chambers of Commerce within governorates and local bodies.

This activity comes as part of the "Enhancing Access to Justice in Hebron, Bethlehem, Salfit, Nablus and Qalqilyah through promoting ADR and early response mechanisms – Phase II” project. The project is implemented by The Palestinian Association for Empowerment and Local Development—REFORM, in partnership with the General Administration of Professional Affairs and the Alternative Means for Resolving Disputes in the Palestinian Ministry of Justice and supported by Sawasya II: UNDP, UN Women and UNICEF Joint Programme: Promoting the Rule of Law in the State of Palestine. This project aims to enhance the access to justice for vulnerable and marginalized groups by enabling the institutionalisation and strengthening of ADR mechanisms within the formal and informal justice systems, promoting human rights and gender justice.