Statement by Mrs. Somaia Barghouti, Counsellor, Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the U.N., before the 43rd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, Item 3: Follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women, 2 March 1999:

My delegation takes the floor to address agenda item 3, Follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women, in particular the segment of the report of the Secretary-General E/CN.6/1999/2 concerning the situation of Palestinian women and assistance provided by organizations of the United Nations system. At this time, I would like to express our thanks and appreciation to the Secretary-General for his valuable report and to the Division for the Advancement of Women as well for their efforts to continue to assist Palestinian women.

Madame Chairperson,

Follow-up of the situation of women worldwide since the convening of the Conference reveals that little progress has been achieved regarding implementation of the outcome of the Beijing Platform of Action. The advancement of women, their equality and integration in development, as well as their human rights are issues that enjoy great attention by the international community. However, such attention should be transformed into action with more innovative approaches and additional resources directed at the implementation of the Beijing Platform of Action. More importantly, genuine improvement of the status of women requires that peace, equality, and democracy are the prevailing norms. These prerequisites for the real advancement of women are considered most urgent in the case of Palestinian women who have strived for the achievement of peace, freedom and prosperity for many decades.

Palestinian women today continue to suffer and face with the harsh daily reality of the continuing Israeli occupation, which is the main obstacle in the path of their advancement. The report of the Secretary-General covers some issues regarding the negative impact of Israeli policies and measures on the situation of Palestinian women. In this regard, allow me Madame Chairperson, to make the following remarks:

  • The report clearly indicates the adverse effect of the Israeli occupation on the situation of Palestinian women and its "detrimental impact on their socio-economic condition".
  • Despite the slight improvement in economic conditions, it is unfortunate that the potential for improvement has been severely affected and curtailed by the continuation of Israel’s closure policies and practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem.
  • The report overlooks the effects of the continuous building and expansion of Israeli colonial settlements and the ongoing confiscation of land and water on the situation of Palestinian women and children. We believe that this issue should be a concern of the international community, particularly the United Nations.
  • The increase in the breakup of families and the lack of a solution for the Palestine refugees are serious problems that continue to affect Palestinian women and impede their progress.
  • The report states that "Palestinian Authority and civil society, with the assistance of the international community have taken considerable steps to advance the situation of Palestinian women. However, further efforts and assistance are needed…" We hope that more efforts will be exerted and additional resources are allocated toward the improvement of the situation of Palestinian women and their empowerment.
  • We would like to note improvement in the report and the issues dealt with therein.

Madame Chairperson,

In spite of the difficulties that Palestinian women face on a daily basis, they continue to participate actively, with the rest of the Palestinian people, in their struggle for freedom and independence. Palestinian women are committed to the strategies necessary for their advancement and empowerment. Their goals are the establishment of an independent and democratic Palestine, based on the principles of equality and social justice for all. As part of their specific activities to follow up the Fourth World Conference on Women, Palestinian Women have prepared a national strategy and plan of action geared towards their advancement and empowerment and procuring an enabling environment for the achievement of these objectives. Details of the ongoing activities for the advancement of the Palestinian women are included in our national report, which we will submit to the CSW next month. In this regard, we would like to express our thanks and appreciation to the organizations of the United Nations and donor countries who have provided, and continue to provide, assistance to Palestinian women.

As for the Middle East peace process, it continues to be subject to persistent undermining due to Israeli policies and practices carried out in violation of the agreements reached as well as of international law and relevant United Nations resolutions. The far-reaching ramifications of such policies and practices on the daily conditions of life in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, cannot be overemphasized. This has impeded the progress that Palestinian women strive for. This correlation is clear in the Secretary-General’s report, when it is stated: "The status and situation of Palestinian women are inextricably linked to development on the peace front. Progress in the peace process should be translated into tangible benefits for the people of the occupied territories and refugee camps".

At this critical time in the struggle of Palestinian women to achieve equality, development and peace, it is vital that the international community, especially the United Nations, continue to support and increase their assistance to Palestinian women. Further, in this regard, we look forward to unanimous support of the draft resolution that will be presented by our delegation regarding assistance to Palestinian women.

I thank you, Madame Chairperson.