The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) was established pursuant to General Assembly resolution 302 (IV) of December 1949. The Agency is a subsidiary body of the Assembly and became operational on 1 May 1950, responding to the needs of about 750,000 Palestine refugees. It is one of the largest United Nations programmes, with a population of approximately 5 million registered Palestine refugees under its mandate and over 30,000 staff.
Internally, UNRWA is guided by its Gender Policy (2007), Medium-Term Strategy (2016-2021), and Gender Equality Strategy (2016-2021): 'Integrating Gender, Improving Services, Impacting Lives.' Further, UNRWA is guided by all relevant commitments by the UN system, including but not limited to: The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action; The United Nations Secretary-General’s campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Women (UNiTE Campaign); and Sustainable Development Goal.
As part of the Agency's commitment to gender equality, UNRWA prioritizes targeted interventions based on identified field priorities, one of which is gender-based violence (GBV). Thus, in view of addressing GBV holistically, UNRWA adopted in 2009 a multisectoral approach, which was informed by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Guidelines for GBV in Humanitarian Settings. One of the core aspects of the multisectoral approach is the centrality of survivours’ rights and needs, such as ensuring access to adequate services, confidentiality and safety. UNRWA's approach to addressing GBV focused on four main areas: i) training UNRWA staff to identify, refer and provide support to GBV survivors; ii) developing referral pathways; iii) building partnerships with external service providers; and iv) raising awareness and involving Palestine Refugee communities in the protection from GBV, to enhance both response and prevention.
In 2014, UNRWA began working on addressing GBV in emergencies, based on increasing concerns on responding and mitigating GBV in the context of the conflicts in Syria and in Gaza. Building on this, a process for increasing the institutional capacity of the Agency to address GBV in emergency contexts started in 2015 through a multi-year programme entitled 'Building Safety', which included the development of the following key components: i) Guidelines for GBV Risk Mitigation in Emergencies (2017); ii) GBV Training Package (2018); iii) E-learning Course on GBV Risk Mitigation in Emergencies (2018); iv) GBV Prevention Framework (2017). Integral to the work on GBV in emergencies, UNRWA has also been working on enhancing community participation and engagement.
- UNRWA Gender Policy (2007)
- UNRWA Experience in GBV Programming: Lessons from the first five years (2015)- What’s at Stake Fact sheet (2018)
- UNRWA Gender Equality Strategy (2016-2021): Integrating Gender, Improving Services, Impacting Lives (2016)
- UNRWA GBV Prevention Framework (2017)
- UNRWA Guidelines for GBV risk-mitigation in emergencies (2017)
UNRWA GBV indicators are a part of the Agency-wide monitoring framework and are reported on periodically.
In 2016, UNRWA worked on the development of a common monitoring framework which aims at systemizing data collection among field offices, and ensuring that data informs programming. UNRWA thus follows up on key indicators related to the number of View More
In 2016, UNRWA worked on the development of a common monitoring framework which aims at systemizing data collection among field offices, and ensuring that data informs programming. UNRWA thus follows up on key indicators related to the number of survivours identified, services accessed, trainings to staff, changes in staff capacity to address GBV, as well as other prevention related indicators.Hide
UNRWA continued working on its GBV referral system as well as its associated database and tracking system across its five fields of operation. A computerized database was piloted in Lebanon, while Jordan continues to explore the development of a module for GBV survivors in the Palestine Refugees Registration Information System. In the West Bank and Gaza, there was a significant improvement in data collection during the reporting period, with the majority of the referral system’s frontline staff accessing and updating the database. This data provides crucial information on the types of violence to which survivors have been subjected, and their resultant needs, thereby allowing continuous improvements in the response the Agency provides to its beneficiaries.Hide
Referral systems in place in each of the five fields allow the Agency to collect non-identifiable data on GBV trends, including perpetrators, types of violence and services needed and accessed. Data collected allows the Agency to monitor progress View More
Referral systems in place in each of the five fields allow the Agency to collect non-identifiable data on GBV trends, including perpetrators, types of violence and services needed and accessed. Data collected allows the Agency to monitor progress and measure impact of the various interventions as well as informs the planning and implementation of future activities by building on lessons learnt, best practices and bringing together different experiences from all the fields of operation.
UNRWA’s Gender Equality Strategy (2016-2021), Integrating Gender, Improving Services, Impacting Lives serves to guide and frame all gender-related work by the Agency, including work on GBV.
UNRWA maintains records for referral and case management of GBV survivors, while efforts are made to consolidate best practices, including by organizing a meeting which convened focal points on GBV and referral for discussion of best practices.Hide
In West Bank and Gaza, UNRWA is involved in the UN Country Team gender taskforce, by implementing the component addressing gender-based violence in the joint UN MDG gender programme “gender equality and women’s empowerment in oPT”.Hide
UNRWA is participating in the different UN taskforces aiming to build national strategies to end violence against women in Lebanon, Syria and the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). In the latter specifically, UNRWA is addressing gender-based violence through its participation in the Gender Equality - Social, Political and Economic programme.Hide
UNRWA participates in the different cluster meetings in its fields of operation, and also inter-Agency working groups. UNRWA also grounds its work on raising awareness of the UN Secretary General's UniTE Campaign, such as the Agency's participation the 16 Days of Activism against GBV.
UNRWA is a part of the Call to Action on Protection from GBV in Emergencies, and prioritize the implementation of its commitments as part of the Building Safety project on GBV in emergencies.
During the reporting period, UNRWA provided training to 1,677 staff members, including basic, in-depth and specialized trainings. In Gaza, the Community Mental Health Programme held training on GBV principles and the GBV referral system itself for 150 Health and Relief and Social Services staff, among them nurses, psycho-social counsellors, and social workers. In Jordan, following the expansion of the GBV referral system to new geographical areas, UNRWA staff members in both the Health and Education programmes working in these areas were trained in detection and referral of survivors. UNRWA also held two GBV Learning Workshops in March and October 2013, bringing GBV teams from the different areas of UNRWA’s operations together to discuss results, challenges, and reflect on lessons learned.Hide