“Realizing the Full Potential of Palestine Refugee Women”

08 March 2017
© 2017 UNRWA Photo by Marwan Bagdadi

UNRWA Marks International Women’s Day

Statement by UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl

Today UNRWA joins the rest of the world in marking International Women’s Day under the UN theme of ‘Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50:50 by 2030’.

We are delighted to recognize the role of our staff who have led the Agency’s work on advancing gender equality for Palestine refugees by launching the Gender Champion Award. The Award recognizes the contributions that UNRWA staff have made towards gender equality and that have led to significant changes in the lives of Palestine refugees.

I pay tribute to the UNRWA colleagues who have translated our commitment to gender equality into concrete initiatives that help fulfil Goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals. They include:

Aycheh Takhzant, whose work has ensured access to critical services for thousands of survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) during and prior to the conflict in Syria.

Hadia Chanaa, who has led the implementation of the Agency’s first-ever Gender Audit, setting an example for gender-sensitive and responsible programming in Lebanon.

Muin Moqat, who has guaranteed safer access to housing for women in Gaza by implementing a co-signing policy as part of the Agency’s rehousing programme.

Wafa Mousa Diyab, who has ensured female staff in Gaza are equipped with the necessary knowledge and guidance to improve access to senior staff positions within the Agency.

Rasha Ikrayeem, who has led an initiative with local partners to create innovative job opportunities for women inside West Bank camps for Palestine refugees, such as paper recycling.

Finally, Samira Ammouri, who has been instrumental in building partnerships with external service providers that have allowed us to offer more holistic services to hundreds of survivors of GBV in Jordan.

These are just some of the unique contributions UNRWA staff have made over the past years to advancing gender equality both organizationally and within the communities we serve. The impact they have made is undeniable.

Their contributions demonstrate that the Agency’s commitment to gender equality is indivisible from our organizational evolution towards a more equitable and inclusive work culture for women. This has specific relevance for UNRWA given that 52 per cent of our 31,181 staff members are women and, for the most part, they are Palestine refugees.

This year also marks an important milestone for UNRWA in terms of gender equality. Ten years ago, UNRWA made gender equality a cornerstone of its work through the adoption of its first-ever Gender Equality Policy.

We are proud of our achievements and determined to pursue our efforts, and we recommit to these important objectives in the interest of our staff and in defending the rights of Palestine refugees.

Background Information

UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA Programme Budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s Programme Budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.

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

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness
Spokesperson, Director of Advocacy & Strategic Communications
Mobile: 
+972 (0)54 240 2659
Office: 
+972 (0)2 589 0267
Sami Mshasha
Chief of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
Mobile: 
+972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: 
+972 (0)258 90724
Two UNRWA students from Gaza enjoy recess in their first day of school. © 2017 UNRWA Photo by Rushdi Al-Saraj
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