Statement by YWCA Palestine on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
The YWCA of Palestine strives to protect the rights of Palestinian youth, especially young women, under the ongoing military occupation and the continued oppression and human rights violations targeted at Palestinians in the West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. These violations are manifested in movement restriction, land expropriation, arrests, withdrawal of identity cards etc.
Israel is systematically targeting young activists on social media by accusing them of incitement, which is a violation of the international human rights law as affirmed in article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression”, and article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which stresses that “everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.
Security Council Resolutions related to peace and security, most notably UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security, as well as UNSCR 2250 on Youth, Peace, and Security, urge member states to take the necessary measures to ensure the full protection of women and youth in armed conflicts and their meaningful participation in decision-making and peace processes.
The YWCA of Palestine works to empower women and youth by creating the opportunities for them to be leaders in their communities, promote their participation in the public sphere, and raise their awareness of their individual, collective, and national rights. In line with its mission, and international law, and in accordance with all indicators and facts issued by women’s and human rights organizations, we affirm the following:
- Palestinian women and youth are subjected to one or multiple forms of violence, Physical, psychological, sexual, and verbal, in addition to marginalization and deprivation;
- Palestinian women and young women are subjected to double violence; political violence due to the Israeli occupation and its systematic practices, and social violence;
- The absence of international protection of abused women and youth under occupation;
- Women and youth face discrimination in all aspects of public life, especially the political;
- The absence of protection of the right of refugee women and young women to active participation in decision-making bodies in refugee camps;
- There have been many recorded cases of violation of youth right to freedom of speech, especially in the public sphere, whether through arrest for activism or peaceful assembly, threatening phone calls or on social media, or verbal and physical abuse etc.
At the YWCA of Palestine, we believe in the importance of implementing the principals and mechanisms of women and youth protection and empowerment in all aspects of life, as well as mitigating the effects of Israel’s policies on the lives of women and youth. We affirm that the empowerment of women, young women, and girls to demand their social, economic, and political rights, is essential to creating a society where equality, freedom, justice, and human dignity prevail. We work through coordination and networking with human rights organizations to lobby policy-makers to end the violations of the right to freedom of speech, and commit to the recognition and protection of this basic human right.
In order to achieve these goals, the YWCA of Palestine continues to incorporate the “Peace and Security” agenda and all related international conventions in its efforts, at the local, regional, and international levels. This is accomplished through the activation of specialized networks in the protection of youth rights.
We are, in fact, forming a national youth coalition in accordance with UNSCR 2250, and we call for the creation of a national incubator for women and young women to:
- Call on the international community to abide by its obligations under international law, the International Declaration of Human Rights, and UNSCRs 1325 and 2250 on the protection of women and youth in conflict-affected areas;
- Call on the contracting parties to the Four Geneva Conventions to commit to protecting Palestinian women and youth as citizens of an occupied country;
- Call on the Palestinian government to abide by its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and CEDAW, and to align its national legislation;
- Demand that the Palestinian government commits to respecting and protecting human rights in accordance with article 10 of chapter two of the Palestinian Basic Law;
- Demand that the Palestinian government refrains from infringing on the right to freedom of opinion and expression in accordance with article 19 of the Palestinian Basic Law;
- Continue to work with the Palestinian government to increase the participation of youth in decision-making.