Economic security is a priority demand by Palestinian women. The protracted crisis in the occupied Palestinian territory has led to the erosion or loss of livelihoods, labour rights and social benefits. In a deteriorated socioeconomic environment, women continue to bear the brunt of care duties, and more and more Palestinian women have been obliged to enter the formal and, more often than not, the informal labour force while facing limited opportunities of employment and self-employment.
The lack of demand for women’s labour and the skewed nature of the Palestinian economy in favour of the services sector, compounded with the overarching political context, have forced women to generate coping mechanisms. As they enter the labour force, Palestinian women continue to face challenges in relation to their lack of access to, control over and ownership of assets, including finance. They are also faced with a discriminatory regulatory and legal environment, disapproving attitudes about women’s employment, as well as general perceptions of women’s income as supportive or secondary. All of these factors continue to limit Palestinian women’s economic empowerment.
UN Women’s approach to Palestinian women’s economic empowerment is to secure livelihoods as a means both to participate in and benefit from economic development. UN Women works on fostering an enabling socio-economic environment and providing gender-sensitive services for women’s sustainable livelihoods. For this purpose, UN Women builds the capacity of Palestinian institutions to develop gender-sensitive policies and regulations to overcome barriers to women’s employment. At the community level, UN Women supports proven successful income-generating models to take them to scale, through the SABAYA approach. The SABAYA approach is a model linking response to immediate needs while setting the grounds for longer-term development, ensuring financial sustainability for community-based women centers, which in turn provide employment opportunities and services to rural Palestinian women. Building on a network of over 50 women community-based centres established across the West Bank and Gaza Strip, UN Women works with excluded and marginalized women in rural areas to upgrade their standards of living and achieve social, economic and political security and rights.