Ahead of the 46th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC46) — taking place between 22 February and 23 March 2021 — the General Union of Palestinian Women (GUPW), supported by WILPF, hosted a webinar entitled: “The WPS Agenda Under Occupation: Gendered Impacts of the Israeli Occupation on Women and Girls ”.
As noted by WILPF MENA Director and the event moderator Laila Alodaat, “The purpose of this event [was] to inform the HRC’s 46th session on the gendered impacts of the Israeli occupation in Palestine, and the Women, Peace and Security Agenda under occupation.”
Despite the overabundance of online meetings and events in the period ahead of and during the HRC, the live webinar held on 18 February 2021 attracted over 150 attendees.
In her opening remarks, UN Women’s Representative in Palestine Maryse Guimond called on member states to include the rights of women and girls in the State of Palestine at the centre of the agenda and the discussion.
The panelists included Intissar Al-Wazir, head of the GUPW and former minister at the Palestinian Authority; Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; and Dr. Shaddad Attili, an adviser-ranking minister at the Palestinian Negotiations Affairs Department.
The speakers sought to amplify the work, voices and perspectives of Palestinian women and women-led organisations and the issues they face due to the Israeli occupation.
The event kicked-off with a series of brief presentations by the speakers. Al-Wazir presented her most recent work on settlements expansion in the West Bank and the blockade in Gaza, and their impact on Palestinian women.
Al-Wazeer: "According to the @UNFPA, out of the 1072 breast cancer deaths in 2016 in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, 643 women died prematurely, and these deaths could have been prevented had there been pathways for effective examination, early detection, and referral."— WILPF (@WILPF) February 18, 2021
Kevorkian presented her paper entitled “Secrecy as Violence Against Women in Occupied Jerusalem,” which sheds light on gender-based violence in the context of militarisation, focusing on the situation of Palestinian women living in the occupied East Jerusalem.
Professor Nadera Kevorkian addresses the ways in which "secret information" is used by the state as a form of gendered-based violence against Palestinian women, under a strategy of entrapment.— WILPF (@WILPF) February 18, 2021
Dr. Attili then addressed the Israeli occupation’s exploitation of Palestinian natural resources and the resulting gender impacts, referring to his most recent paper entitled, “Palestinian Women’s Lives Under An Occupied Environment”.
The presentations were followed by a Q&A session, which touched upon the situation of rural women in the Occupied Palestinian Territories; responses to the COVID-19 pandemic; the increasing annexation of Palestinian territories by Israeli authorities in the West Bank; and the possibility of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to prosecute Israel as a mechanism to hold it accountable for violations of international human rights and humanitarian laws.
In his closing remarks, Sir Michael Lynk, UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territory Occupied Since 1967, saluted the bravery of Palestinian women and girls who have been the forefront of national resistance through history.
“No society in the world can achieve meaningful economic, social and political progress if barriers … are allowed to hold the full potential of women,” Lynk stated.
Second secretary to the Permanent Mission to the State of Palestine in Geneva, Doa Nofal, also made a special intervention at the closure of the discussion.
This webinar marks the first of three events that WILPF is supporting the GUPW with throughout 2021, including an Arria formula meeting on Palestine, and a side-event on the sidelines of the WPS annual debate in October.