John Hendra urges greater participation of women in all spheres of public life during visit to Palestine
Date: 23 October 2013
UN Women Deputy Executive Director for Policy and Programme, John Hendra, undertook a three-day official visit to the UN Women office in Palestine, where he met with members of the Government, civil society, UN agencies and donors to advocate for greater commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment.
During the visit, from 9-11 October, John Hendra noted that “the challenges that Palestinian women face are complex and compounded by hardship and issues of access to resources and services. It is difficult to address the situation of women without also taking into account the broader political context facing the country and region.” He praised the efforts of, and progress by, the different stakeholders to advance women’s rights and promote women’s economic and political participation.
“Civil society is very strong and has played an important and historic role in promoting and supporting women’s resilience and rights and addressing the structural factors that perpetuate gender inequality,” Mr. Hendra said. He also commended “the commitment of the local and national authorities to advance the gender equality agenda and deliver quality services to women survivors of violence.”
In Ramallah, John Hendra met with the newly appointed Palestinian Authority Prime Minister, Rami Hamdallah, as well as the Minister for Women’s Affairs, Rahiba Diab, to discuss the Palestinian Government’s strategies and plans to advance gender equality and women’s rights and how to foster further collaboration with UN Women in this endeavour.
Mr. Hendra also held discussions with members of civil society during a meeting with the UN Women Civil Society Advisory Group, as well as with Palestinian women’s organizations on the issue of political participation of Palestinian women and implementing UN Security Council resolution 1325.
The visit gave Mr. Hendra the opportunity to meet directly with women and other members of communities whose lives have been positively impacted through UN Women’s work.
In a visit to the Anata Sabaya Centre, he discussed the impact and contribution of the Centre and the Women-Run School Canteen Project to improving the livelihood of women, their families and the community. With the rate of Palestinian women’s participation in the labour force at 17.4 per cent  – one of the lowest in the world – Mr. Hendra reiterated the need to support women’s economic participation and empowerment, which will also open the door to greater participation of women in other spheres of public life.
“I manage a canteen and I am proud of my work,” said one of the women, Aida. “I went from being at home and shy to serving food to thousands of kids every day.”
Mr. Hendra also visited the Mehwar Centre, the first multi-purpose comprehensive centre for women survivors of violence, where he met with Centre staff as well as the women there to hear their testimonies and expectations for the future.
Mr. Hendra praised the high level of commitment and collaboration between UN Women, the Government, civil society, community organizations and leaders that he witnessed during his visit. He called for strengthening efforts for the advancement of women’s rights and women’s full economic and political participation despite the difficult context.