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 has continued its advocacy work by participating in the International Women Day (IWD) and the International 16 Days Campaign through various events, including the launch of a short-film “Ana Ahlam4”, highlighting forms of GBV within the family, in cooperation with ABAAD5. In November 2013, UNRWA focused on strengthening community response to GBV by including men and youth within the programme. In addition, the Gaza Field Office conducted a signature campaign with over 6,500 handprints stamped on posters - and organising awareness-raising sessions and activities for over 2,450 persons.Hide
As part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence campaign, UNRWA, in collaboration with various stakeholders, organised events in Gaza, Jordan, Syria, and West Bank, involving its health, education, relief and social services programmes. Activities included photograph exhibitions, mobile theatres, awareness events and poetry. UNRWA, in Gaza, held awareness-raising workshops on the role of the international instruments in fighting gender-based violence, where UNRWA teachers participated.Hide
UNRWA participated in the 16 days of activism campaign against gender violence. In Gaza City, 700 women were invited to an informative talk about gender-based violence. A series of activities were held in UNRWA’s schools and women’s centres throughout the West Bank, including creative workshops, documentary screenings and sessions on the adverse consequences of gender-based violence. UNRWA, along with other UN agencies in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, held a joint event. In Syria, public events were organized in Damascus, Hama and Homs, including testimonies from victims, paintings, lectures and marches. Targeted audiences included youth, women, men, community leaders and religious leaders.Hide
UNRWA has made regular submissions to the Report of the UN Secretary-General on the Situation of and Assistance to Palestinian Women in the occupied Palestinian territory; SG Report pursuant to General Assembly resolution 70/138 entitled View More
UNRWA has made regular submissions to the Report of the UN Secretary-General on the Situation of and Assistance to Palestinian Women in the occupied Palestinian territory; SG Report pursuant to General Assembly resolution 70/138 entitled “The girl child”; reporting on the UN Systems-Wide Action plan on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women(UN-SWAP); and submissions to the International Human Rights System including the relevant treaty bodies and Special Rapporteurs.Hide
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 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
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.