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 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 5.4 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA across its five fields of operation. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, including East Jerusalem 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.

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