This year for International Women’s Day, UNRWA is recognizing staff members from each of its fields of operations – Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Gaza and the West Bank – who have contributed to advancing gender equality in the Agency and more equitable and inclusive services and protection for Palestine refugees. Here are the UNRWA staff members who their peers have recognized as champions for gender equality in the workplace.
Aicha has been with UNRWA for 17 years, having joined the Agency in 2000. Since 2010, she has served as a Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Coordinator in Syria, playing a critical role in enhancing the capacity of the Agency in Syria to respond to the needs of survivors of GBV and promoting a more inclusive environment for Palestine refugees in Syria. Among her many achievements throughout her tenure, she helped develop Syria’s gender action plan; established the first legal advice bureau in Palestine refugee camps in Syria in 2008; promoted holistic interventions for survivors of GBV through the Family Support Office; worked with UNICEF to develop the intervention capacities of kindergarten teachers and rehabilitation workers; and developed and facilitated trainings on children’s rights, women’s rights, GBV and women’s leadership. She has represented UNRWA at a wide array of local and regional conferences and working groups focused on gender issues and has been recognized by her colleagues for her community-based approach in her work.
As the Deputy Chief of the Agency’s Infrastructure and Camp Improvement Programme (ICIP) in Gaza, Muin was recognized by his colleagues as an active promoter and change maker for equal rights by ensuring policies that respond to the needs of both women and men. Muin was a key promoter and driving force within UNRWA in Gaza behind the adoption a co-signing policy in rehousing projects, a policy that may not have been implemented without his support and vocal advocacy. After the initial round of co-signing, Muin has since ensured that the policy is institutionalized. According to his colleagues, Muin’s attitude and commitment to positive change makes a strong role-model for gender equality. He sees the value of inclusivity, whether in the work that ICIP does or in the teams who make it happen. He is also a go-getter and ensures that ideas are turned into reality and followed through on. Muin continuously looks at ways of improving the work that ICIP does and figuring out “what’s next for gender equality.”
Wafa has worked with UNRWA for 23 years and today serves as a Recruitment Officer with the Agency’s Department of Human Resources in Gaza. As the Recruitment Officer, Wafa always seeks to promote a culture that embraces gender equality at all stages of the recruitment cycle. In line with the Agency’s efforts to achieve gender balance and promote opportunities for female staff to compete for senior positions, Wafa launched an initiative to empower the Department’s female staff and guide them on effective career-path planning. She has organized guidance sessions for her staff covering a wide range of issues, including health, gender issues and communications, improving their self-confidence and helping them to overcome the barriers and obstacles in their career path. She also advises hiring managers on gender equality issues and encourages all of her staff to partake in capacity-building and development opportunities to expand their level of competence and professionalism. As a woman in a senior position, she inspires her staff and colleagues and has been recognized for providing insightful, reliable and professional guidance and serving as a tireless advocate for gender equality in the workplace.
Samira has worked with UNRWA for 16 years and currently works as a School Counsellor with the Agency in Jordan. In addition to her responsibilities as a School Counsellor, Samira also serves as the gender-based violence (GBV) focal point for UNRWA in Jerash and Souf camps in the Irbid area. She has been recognized by her colleagues for systematically helping women stand up for their rights and for her extensive and proactive work on gender activities and projects, regularly demonstrating creativity and innovation in handling gender-related issues and challenges. She facilitated focus group discussions for the US-funded ‘Safe from the Start’ project in Jordan, playing an important role in ensuring the success of the project. She has also facilitated trainings on GBV detection for UNRWA staff from various departments, helped to ensure access to services for survivors of GBV with external service providers, and embraced new ways to better track and respond to GBV cases. As recognized by her colleagues, Samira’s dedication and creative approaches have played an important role in improving the Agency’s capacity to address GBV cases in Jordan.
Rasha is a civil engineer working as a Project Coordinator with the Agency’s Cash-for-Work (CfW) Unit in the West Bank. As part of her work, she contributes to women’s empowerment and skills improvement in West Bank camps through CfW projects, in addition to other initiatives in the camps to create new innovative job opportunities for female CfW beneficiaries. Last year, Rasha and her colleagues implemented the ‘She Can’ initiative to encourage local partners to create new innovative job opportunities for women inside West Bank camps. The main objectives of this initiative were to offer women new innovative job opportunities that will equip them with new experiences and skills, develop innovative opportunities for female CfW beneficiaries with the aim to offer them new leadership roles, and offer women the opportunity to propose innovative ideas based on their daily needs. For her innovative work on the ‘She Can’ initiative, Rasha has been recognized by her colleagues for providing the women in the camps with an opportunity to express themselves and empowering them to access new income opportunities and skills.
Hadia Chanaa has been working with UNRWA for 15 years and as a Women’s Programme Officer with the Agency in Lebanon since 2008. Hadia has held diverse and progressively responsible positions throughout her career with UNRWA, starting as a Social Worker in North Lebanon, supporting Palestine refugees facing trying times as a result of conflict and poverty. More recently, her work has focused on the management of the women’s empowerment programme, where she has successfully overseen the reform of the programme and its transition into a professional gender-based violence (GBV) case management unit. This was in addition to supporting the formulation and establishment of an innovative community protection and GBV prevention initiative. Through her work, Hadia has proved herself as a highly professional and reliable supervisor, guiding her team in the provision of survivor-centred care and support. Furthermore, she took personal initiative and led the implementation of the Agency’s first ever Gender Audit, setting an example for gender-sensitive and responsible programming for colleagues in Lebanon and across all UNRWA fields. In her work, Hadia maintains high ethical standards by treating both colleagues and community members with dignity and respect while challenging prejudice, biases and intolerance in the workplace. Her colleagues have recognized Hadia for her dedication, professionalism and motivation in her work, which has helped improve the lives of Palestine refugee women and girls in Lebanon.