On International Women's Day, UNRWA and the EU Celebrate Palestinian Women

08 March 2010

            

East Jerusalem

Alia Arasoughly, Palestinian film producer and head of womens’ NGO Shashat
Alia Arasoughly, Palestinian film producer
and head of womens’ NGO Shashat

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) today kicked off a week of celebrations in honour of International Women’s Day, 8 March 2010.

Workers at the Agency’s main compound in East Jerusalem were treated to a visit by the Palestinian cinema NGO Shashat. After a speech by Barbara Shenstone, the director of UNRWA’s operations in the West Bank, came a screening of the film Far from Loneliness, which follows the tough pre-dawn journey of three older farming women from their fields to the vegetable markets, as they tell of their relationship to the land. The screening was followed by a lively discussion, led by director Sawsan Qaoud and producer Alia Arasoughly.

Qaoud’s film is one of four produced by Shashat as part of their ambitious ‘Masarat’ project, supported by funding from the European Union. The project aims to encourage public debate on women’s lives in the occupied Palestinian territory, using film as a way to engage a wider audience from diverse social, economic and educational backgrounds. Yesterday’s event was the first in a series of similar events planned throughout UNRWA’s five fields of operation, as part of the Agency’s efforts to achieve gender equality within all its operations and programmes, and among staff and beneficiaries alike.

Meanwhile, further celebrations got under way in Lebanon and Jerusalem, with events showcasing the achievements of UNRWA’s female beneficiaries and exhibiting Palestinian-made products. A special event in East Jerusalem will tomorrow launch a week-long bazaar of goods produced by Palestinian women under the auspices of UNRWA’s job creation programme (JCP), which ensures work for the most vulnerable West Bank refugees.

The programme’s cash-for-work project, made possible by donors including the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO), and the governments of Sweden, Belgium and the US, actively targets female refugees by providing work opportunities to suit social values, and which are physically accessible to women. The event will run at the East Jerusalem YWCA until 11 March in celebration of the achievements of the project’s female employees.

Background

UNRWA provides assistance and protection to Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the occupied Palestinian territory, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. It does so by offering to a population of some 4.7 million refugees a range of human development and humanitarian services in primary and vocational education, primary health care, social safety-net, community support, infrastructure and camp improvement, microfinance and emergency response, including in situations of armed conflict. UNRWA’s role also encompasses advocacy and actions to address the human rights and protection needs of Palestine refugees. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions from UN member states.

The European Union is the largest multilateral provider of international assistance to Palestine refugees. Over the period 2000 to 2009, the EU, excluding EU member states, alone has provided more than €1 billion of support to the Agency. The EU and its Member States provided 62 per cent of support to the General Fund in 2009. This funding has enabled human development for the most vulnerable Palestine refugees in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

Masarat is an ambitious Palestinian media project by the Palestinian cinema NGO Shashat, and funded by the European Union. The project aims to promote awareness of the resiliency and strength of Palestinian women and encouraging public debate of some of their lives. The four films focus on women and young girls from diverse walks of life addressing the complexity of women’s lives in Palestine. Each of the films is unique in its style and subject matter and focuses on women from different social, economic backgrounds and of different generations. An extensive and diverse network of community, cultural and educational institutions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as well as independent media outlets were involved in the project. The four films are Ghada Terawi’s Golden Pomegranate Seeds, Sawsan Qaoud’s Far from Loneliness and Mahasen Nasser-Eldin’s Samia, and Dima Abu Ghoush’s First Love.

For more information on the EU‘s assistance to the occupied Palestinian territory
Shadi Othman, +972 (0)2 541 5888 ext 867
shadi.othman@ec.europa.eu

For more information on Shashat and the Masarat project
Alia Arasoughly, +972-2)297-3337
alia@shashat.org

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 US$ 56 million.

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness
UNRWA Spokesperson
Mobile: 
+972 (0)54 240 2659
Office: 
+972 (0)2 589 0267
Sami Mshasha
UNRWA Arabic Spokesperson
Mobile: 
+972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: 
+972 (0)2 589 0724

Gaza Emergency Donate Message 4
US$ 1080 FEEDS A FAMILY IN GAZA FOR A MONTH