RAMALLAH, Feb. 23, 2009 (JMCC) - Palestinian women in the occupied territories are increasingly facing the burden of balancing traditional gender roles with the harsh economic realities of living under occupation. This is the conclusion of a new study published by CARE International, along with the World Bank and the Women’s Study Institute at (WSI) Bir Zeit University.
The report illustrates how Palestinian women have had to enter the workforce in greater numbers in order to assist their families barely able to survive. The economy of the occupied Palestinian territories has plunged substantially over the last decade. International donors’ aid is keeping the economy afloat, but it does very little for rampant unemployment.
Men, the traditional breadwinners in Palestinian society, are suffering deep psychological reactions because of their inability to fulfill their role in the family, according to the report. Daily fear and humiliation leave them depressed and emasculated. Women are often left to balance between earning money outside the home, while maintaining their current roles inside the home, and attending to the delicate psychological needs of their husbands and fathers, unable to provide for the family themselves.
“Palestinian women are finding ways to cope with the poverty and conflict they find their families facing but their strategies represent a double blow, says Martha Myers, Head of CARE International in the West Bank and Gaza. First, they are assuming extra burdens, work, and responsibilities. Second, they have to manage this in the context of traditional roles and perceptions and the men in their lives who are increasingly isolated and frustrated by their inability to provide and care.
CARE says the only permanent solution is for Israel to lift the economic restrictions on the Palestinian economy. They also say the Palestinian Authority can take some temporary steps to assuage the difficult situation Palestinian women and their families are facing, such as enabling employment for women that is perceived as “dignified”, especially through improvement of public transport regulation and enforcement of labor law.Read
the full report on JMCC...