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PCBS data reveals growing rate of Palestinian women in workforce despite challenges

March 8, 2017 6:18 P.M. (Updated: March 9, 2017 10:58 A.M.)
(File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) marked International Women’s Day with a press release revealing persisting yet improving disparities between Palestinian women and men in the workplace in the occupied territory.

Despite representing roughly half of the total population of 4.88 million in the occupied Palestinian territory, the 2.4 million women in the West Bank and Gaza Strip represented 19.3 percent of the workforce in 2016, however marking a wide improvement from just 10.3 percent in 2001.

Unemployment among Palestinian women was almost exactly twice as high than that off men -- 44.7 percent and 22.2 percent, respectively.

About half of women -- 50.6 percent -- with 13 years of schooling and above were unemployed.

The average daily wage for women was 83.30 shekels ($22.6) compared to 114.10 ($30.96) for men, representing a wage gap of 27 percent.

PCBS statistics also found that the transition for Palestinian graduates aged 15 to 29 into the labor market widely favored males.

Data showed that the rate of females in that age group who successfully moved from school to the labor market was only 6.6 percent compared to 44.8 percent of the males.

Palestinian women also represented a disproportionate low share of public life relative to their share of the population. In 2015, 17.2 percent of judges, 22.5 percent of registered lawyers, 16.7 of members of the public prosecution staff, and 21.1 percent of registered engineers were women.

However, women represented nearly half of the public sector posts at 42.6 percent.

Only 11.7 percents of Palestinian directors general in the civil sector across the occupied territory were women, and 23.2 percent of members of West Bank university student council were women.

Gender disparities in the workplace were also corroborated by higher prevalence of early marriage among women and girls compared to males -- in 2015, 20.3 percent of females married before 18 years old, compared to 1.1 percent of males.

Married women represented 62.3 percent of the total female Palestinian population aged 18 and above in 2016. Some 26.4 percent had never been married, 6.6 percent were widows, 2.7 percent were engaged for the first time, and 2 percent were divorced.

In spite of gender inequalities in the workforce however, literacy rates among Palestinian women have continued to rise over the past decade -- reaching 95.2 percent in 2016, though they were still higher among men at 98.6 percent.

Meanwhile, enrollment rates for Palestinian girls in high schools exceeded those of boys. PCBS data showed that male enrollment in high schools was 58.7 percent, compared to female enrollment which stood at 78.6 percent for the year 2015-2016.

In a written statement issued Wednesday, PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi highlighted the importance of laws and legal systems that demand equality and justice for women.

“We have to ensure that our Palestinians laws are all consistent with our obligations as per international treaties and conventions, including in the UN Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (2000). It is incumbent upon the Palestinian leadership to ensure the implementation of these laws in all different spheres, to hold to account all those who violate them and to stand up to the abuse of religion and traditions to justify injustice against women or any attempt to marginalize or deprive them of their right to self-determination.”

Ashrawi went on to stress that “Palestinian women continue to suffer severe psychological, physical and emotional abuse and endure grave acts of oppression, violence and hardship at the hands of Israel and its unbridled violations," and highlighted the struggle of Palestinian women incarcerated by Israel as political prisoners.
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