A woman in Palestine has a major role in her society, which is being part of the formation of the family. The formation of the family has different units, nuclear, transitional, or hamula or the extended family. Hamula or the extended family is the most common family formation in the Palestinian community. The tradition and teachings of the Quran have significant influences for the rights of women in Palestine. Hanan Riyan Bakri, a counselor of Women’s Social and Legal Center based in East Jerusalem traveled throughout the Occupied Territories to lecture Palestinian women about their rights . Generally, parents who are expecting a child prefer to have a boy. They believed with respect to their tradition and culture that the boys carry the name of their family and the male members in the family provide security for the family lineage and economic status. In a family, girls are expected to adapt the customary roles of women in Palestinian community and not to secure the income for the family. Palestinian women are molded as second-rate to Palestinian men. In the contrary, the modern society is on its transitional period leading to independence and statehood among women . For many years women in Palestine and the other Palestinians have not enjoyed totally the chances of having their own system, laws, leaders, and own state. With the given idea on transitional period and opportunity, people would like to change some of the old laws as part of the injustices they experienced and open new beginnings especially for women in Palestine. Parents are no longer bound in their tradition and culture, those girls in the society are just better as merely part of the family formation without education. In terms of education, the attitudes of the respective parents of their daughters are changing gradually. One of the reasons for its gradual change is the increased demand of women labor in the market. In addition, the education for women is the development necessity and a human right . Correspondingly, the Palestinian Labor Law ensures the rights to justice for all the people, the right of every person, provides an equal opportunity, and disallows discrimination between women and men. The law provides women a set of rights, maternity leave, legal safeguards, full rights in terms of wages, entitle women to tax exemptions on net profit, and protects them against violence. The resistance movements inside the Occupied Territories are the long history of involvements of Palestine women . The General Union of Palestinian Women is organized to sustain communities and hold their families together. Women suffered from injustice as they lack appreciation of their work that offers benefit for the household such as domestic chores, production of food, care and clothing, to provide some income for the women and for their households through working in the informal area. However, they are winning more rights and advancement in education and employment; they formed charitable associations and participating in the nationalist struggle, socially active and working for the welfare of their community, and they endure various political and social oppression.
Education and Employment
Women have their rights in education, employment, and forming charitable associations. Education should apply to everyone, and it is a human right. It is suggested that to study the education of women separately from men will cause discrimination. However, segregated study is considered in the awareness about gender differences. In the Palestinian society, gender differences in education matters should be considered. Women are submissive in their role of motherhood and household management under the authority of their husband in a traditional Palestinian society; they devote their entire time to their family. Women never asked for help on their household chores, they do not have social life, their life revolved in the family, outside the family perimeter is forbidden, no hobbies and no aspirations, and no self-fulfilling other than the children. Since education is a human right, women in Palestine are now pushing to their limit to education. The United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals of 2000 aimed to improve education, women’s empowerment, gender equality . It has the emphasis on the education of the women and girls, important in creating platforms for sustainable economic growth and building democratic societies. Education should definitely serve as a means in improving the status of women in the family and in the society as a whole. Palestinian people viewed that the education of the future generations is a form of response-protest to the on-going conflicts, displacement, and disorder, and education of women that thrived in years. The most educated women in the Middle East/North Africa or MENA region are some of the Palestinian women who have the effort and determination in their studies. However, the Academic participation of the Palestinian women is measurable, and they are not reaping their education benefits. For some reason that clearly educated Palestinian women are ignored and underutilized source of the human capital in Palestine, and the recent indicators reveal that access to education has not improved the status of the women in the Palestinian society.
The right of every citizen as well as a duty and honor is to work, and the Palestine National Authority or PNA seeks to provide a decent work for all capable citizens . PNA declares that work is the right of all capable citizens and provides a frame of equal opportunity, and protects any form of discriminatory acts. It is defined by the Council of Ministers to regulate the women labor and disallows discrimination among others. It prohibits hard labor, over-time during women’s pregnancy and the first six-month after delivery. Women are provided the set of rights on their needs and the rights to comfort for female laborers, maternity leave, and the right of nursing mothers to daily leaves. In addition, women are entitled to legal safeguards against forbidden jobs, and full rights on salaries and wages. Statistics show an evident violation of the Labor Law; segregation of women from involvement in the paid labor force violates her right to work and leads to a decrease in the national and per capita income. As the economic blockade the Israeli occupation imposed on the Palestinian people aggravated, job opportunities decreased, and women are the first to lose job opportunities and the last to obtain job. The belief that works of women is not important in supporting the family units, and men are in control in providing the family needs. This is not true, there are thousands of women are providing for their families. The Palestinian Constitution prohibited discrimination between men and women, consequently to have an equal pay for workdays. Employers and establishments mostly refused for the implementation of this legislation; the daily pay for women and men in diverse economic activities. Employers have some excuses to justify this situation such as women do not accomplish as much as men do due to frequent maternity leaves and not for reproducing labor force, as a right for the child. In addition, employers considered men who provide for their families while women provide merely for themselves. The claims of the employers ignored the most women working who contributed to support their families. These excuses are scientifically and practically baseless and constituted a form of discrimination between women and men that the employers exploited women in general.
Rights and Laws
Palestine women are socially active and working for the welfare of their community and participating in the nationalist struggle. During the transitional period, West Bank and Gaza Strip have several issues of human rights and liberties gained importance and dominated debate among the Palestinians. There is a special importance in women’s status focusing on the presence of opposition movement of Islam. A devoted Moslem and an Islamic Law specialist and member of the Women's Social and Legal Center named Hanan Riyan Bakri, spend her time and effort travelling around in the Occupied Territories. One of her purposes on travelling is that she offers and lectures important things to women in Palestine regarding the rights of women . Bakri provides the Palestinian women the important points of the civil laws that currently exist and the laws and practices in Islam used by the courts of West Bank. In addition, Bakri involved in share advise to the victims of domestic violence among the Palestinian women. Among the great sufferings of the Palestinian women are from the economic and political conditions and the laws implemented exclusively against them. The ration of education among males is higher than females.
Political and social oppression are not hindrances to endure and continue to improve women’s lives and its community. The current position of Palestinian women has the political difficulties that women are experiencing; however, they endured the various political and social oppressions. Nowadays, the Palestinian woman is generally strong; they enjoy a high level of political awareness, steadfast in their beliefs. For example, during the Intifada, a noticeable resilience occurred, the resistance of Palestinian women to the Israeli occupation when the Israeli took the responsibility of the home resulting the death or imprisonment of the breadwinner of the family. Palestinian women, wealthy or not, put the education of the children as their top priority.
Women in Palestine are in the period of transition that leads to their freedom or independence. Years have passed; Palestinians people and women never fully enjoyed the chance to have their own system, laws, leaders, and a state of their own. As being expected, the advanced opportunities are better that women would have the chance to modify injustice in the previous laws that women experienced, and prefer to move forward for a new beginning. Incidentally, women in Palestine are eager enough concerning the laws that replicate their objectives and the necessities of this period. Both women and men in Palestinian have a great deal of extensive perspective. It is potential that women and men have several similarities; however, women are much more engaged in sensible issues, and never allowed many hindrances to hold back their goals than men. For example, Islam Religion is never an obstacle for the advancement of women . Islam religion never hinders Palestine women in particular to study or work. In fact, the involvement in any voting period is never against in Islam faith. In the time of the Prophets, women play a part in voting period. The only thing that keeps women backward is the terrible practices and beliefs and biased laws that most women succeed from the colonial period.
Women in Palestine suffered from injustice, they lack the appreciation of their work with the aim of providing welfare for the household; domestic chores, production of food, care and clothing, to provide some income for the women and for their households through working in the informal area, still Palestine women has their rights and advancement in education and employment. Women are participating in the labor market encountered many obstacles, most significantly their limitation to certain areas of work are mostly services and agriculture. As the economic blockade the Israeli occupation imposes on the Palestinian people intensifies, job opportunities decreases, women are the first to lose job opportunities. The majority believes that the works of women are not important to sustain the household, and men are accountable in providing for the households. This is certainly not true because there are thousands of women provide for their households, and their numbers are increasing. Women are present at diverse levels of employment; however, their rate decreases in the upper management and decision-making levels, and increases in middle and low-levels. It clearly shows that there is a gender-based discrimination in employment. Women, regardless of their level of education, do not obtain equal opportunities in employment. The role of women and their involvement in Palestinian improvement does not merely depend on their rate of involvement in the work force; however, it is on the superiority of the positions they occupied. They are involved in economic sectors they work in, the rate of representations in decision-making levels, and the equitable access to resources and productive assets. Any well-functioning sovereign market economy requires sound institutions that assure Property Rights in the market place, limit the Power of the Executive in setting invasive policies, offer social safety nets, and create forward-looking economic policy strategies through the political process. The movements take a public stand in the political area more than in the general social area. They are clearer in their opposition to the peace process with Israel than on social issues concerning women.
Education generally serves as resources to improve the social status of the people. This is particularly true for women; educated women have better access to the job market, healthier, less likely to experience early marriage and early motherhood, less poverty-stricken, and less likely to be victims of violence. There are minor differences in the levels of family violence between well-educated and less-educated women; however, the differences are not extensive enough to conclude that education protects women from violence in the home or at work. Palestinian women are always visible in the nationwide struggle; formal government participation is limited.
In the government level, a commitment is needed on behalf of the government to outline a legislation that seeks to eliminate gender-based discrimination in all facets of the life of Palestinian, women in particular. Legislation should address the wage gap and the hiring process by giving alternative means to women who find themselves discriminated alongside. Victim-friendly family violence legislation should be outlined that seeks to criminalize any forms of violence that includes the psychological aspect. Campaigns against early marriage should be implemented at all levels. Awareness-raising campaigns should be nurtured that encourage all women to search for preventive medical care, particularly for curable diseases.
In the leadership level, the governmental gender proportion should be enforced and acknowledged. Women are the missing human capital in Palestinian society; their potential should be utilized for the betterment of the society. Advocacy should include the outlining of legislation, from a perspective of woman rights that seeks to eliminate gender-based discrimination. A shift from biased social practices against women to more gender-neutral approaches has the prospective to change the way future generations accept the rights of women and equality.
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