UNRWA celebrates International Women’s Day in Gaza

09 March 2016

On 8 March 2016, the UNRWA Gender Initiative organized a celebration for International Women’s Day under this year’s slogan, ‘Planet 50:50 by 2030: Step it up for Gender Equality’, in the UNRWA Vocational Training Centre in Khan Younis, southern Gaza. The festivities were supported by 30 partnering community-based organizations (CBOs) and aimed at giving approximately 500 refugee women from across Gaza the opportunity to engage in sports activities, including riding bicycles, flying kites and playing volleyball. The volleyball tournament involved eight teams from different areas of Gaza – including an UNRWA Gaza Field Office team. The Gender Initiative also organized the showing of short movies related to gender equality and women’s empowerment throughout the day.

“I have worked in many different conflict-affected countries around the world. In all my experience, I have learned that gender equality is a main requirement for peace and development – everywhere and every time,” commented Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza (Officer-in-Charge), Melinda Young, during the celebrations. “In Gaza, I am often taken by the enthusiasm, motivation and intelligence of the students in our UNRWA schools; it would be concerning if these boys and girls could not have the same opportunities later in their lives. Both girls and boys deserve the same rights and opportunities.”

In addition to the celebrations on 8 March, the UNRWA Gender Initiative has also organized panel discussions on ‘Raising Voices – Women Can Make Change in Gaza’. The discussions will take place this week and next in CBOs in all five areas of Gaza. Each panel discussion will involve approximately 50 women who can share their successful experiences in the organization of initiatives to promote change through municipal processes.

The UNRWA Gender Initiative supports the development of women in Gaza through its partnering CBOs, which provide a wide range of social and educational activities aimed at giving women the opportunity to engage, network, study, learn, access their rights, and step forward to achieve gender equality and lead change in their communities. The Agency’s 2016 International Women’s Day activities in Gaza are made possible through the support of the Government of Norway.

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
+972 (0)54 240 2659
+972 (0)2 589 0267
Sami Mshasha
Chief of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 216 8295
+972 (0)258 90724
Najwa Sheikh Ahmad
Acting Public Information Officer - Gaza Field Office
+972 597 920 542
+972 8 2887 488
Two UNRWA students from Gaza enjoy recess in their first day of school. © 2017 UNRWA Photo by Rushdi Al-Saraj
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