Deputy Commissioner-General statement on International Women's Day

08 March 2012

8 March 2012
Amman, Jordan

Today, we join the celebrations of the International Women’s Day, which has been observed by the United Nations since 1975. The theme for 2012 is "Empower Rural Women — End Hunger and Poverty". UNRWA is organising events in its different fields of operation to acknowledge Palestinian women’s contribution to society.

While to date, there have been many improvements on women’s legal rights, women around the world are still suffering inequalities in their access to resources, education, as well as legal and political rights. While women comprise half of Palestinian society, their participation in household decisions, and economic, public, and political life does not reflect the same proportion.

UNRWA has been actively working on changing the situation of Palestine refugee men and women. The adoption of UNRWA‘s Gender Policy is a step towards the improvement of the quality of our services and their equal provision to all beneficiaries regardless of gender. Through gender analysis we are able to identify gaps and work on improvement to access, participation, and empowerment of the most vulnerable. We put equity and quality education for boys and girls at the centre of UNRWA’s education reform. We ensure that Palestine refugee women have access to quality health care where their reproductive health needs are addressed. We strive to prevent gender-based violence and support violence survivors’ access to specialised services by building referral systems.

On the occasion of the International Women’s Day, UNRWA reaffirms its commitment to gender equality and women’s human rights and a better future for Palestine refugee women and men, boys and girls.

Margot Ellis
Deputy Commissioner-General

Background Information

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.

Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at more than US$ 106  million.

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