UNRWA and SDG 5: Gender Equality and Women’s and Girls’ Empowerment


UNRWA achieved gender parity in its schools in 1960s. Addressing school drop-out of Palestine refugee boys and girls remains a priority. Several initiatives are carried out to specifically target gendered issues – such as child marriage – that are linked to school drop-out of girls through awareness-raising campaigns in schools for both pupils and families.


Building Safety: Mainstreaming GBV Interventions into Emergency Preparedness, Prevention and Response

In the last decade, the Agency has also taken significant steps to mainstream gender, Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and protection considerations into its emergency response. UNRWA has taken a multi-sectoral approach to addressing GBV for Palestine refugees, including both response and prevention initiatives by ensuring survivors’ access to services through the establishment of a referral system and by engaging community members in prevention and awareness-raising initiatives. One of the Agency’s main initiative is the multi-year programme Building Safety: Mainstreaming GBV Interventions into Emergency Preparedness, Prevention and Response. In 2017, UNRWA became a member of the Call to Action on Protection from GBV in Emergencies.


Economic Opportunities for Women

Palestine refugee women have higher levels of unemployment than men. Considering the challenges faced by women in terms of employment and engagement in economic activities, UNRWA provides economic opportunities to women and reduce the disparity in employment between women and men. In 2017, 15,898 Palestine refugee women had access to loans provided by UNRWA’s microfinance programme to support initiatives leading to better economic opportunities for women. Through its Job Creation Programme, Palestine refugee women receive job opportunities in a wide range of professions in UNRWA installations and partner community-based organizations. UNRWA also delivers tailored vocational training for women in order to provide them with the necessary skills to enter the job market. The Agency’s Young Women Leadership Programme offers training courses in life skills, project cycle management, IT, English and women’s rights to young female graduates between 22 and 28 years-old.


Maternal and Child Health Services

In line with the commitment towards ensuring coverage and improving the quality of maternal and child health services, in recent years UNRWA has put a focus on the engagement of men in pre-conception care and family planning as a way to increase men’s understanding of the importance of family planning and to empower women in making decisions affecting maternal and child health.


Gender Mainstreaming

Through its gender mainstreaming initiatives, UNRWA aims to strengthen the gender focus in programming and service delivery for Palestine refugees by taking into account different needs, vulnerabilities and interests of women and men. At organizational level, UNRWA has taken steps to mainstream gender in the Agency’s culture, management, human resources, communications, staff participation as well as in monitoring and evaluation.