Statement by Mrs. Somaia Barghouti, Counsellor, Before the Third Committee, Agenda Item 103: Advancement of Women; Agenda Item 104: Implementation of the Outcome of the 4th World Conference on Women, 53rd Session, 16 October 1998:
First, my delegation wishes to congratulate you on your well-deserved election as Chairman of this important committee, as well as extending our congratulations to the other members of the Bureau. We are confident that your leadership and skills will contribute to the success of our work.
The advancement of women and their integration in development, as well as, their human rights, are issues that enjoy great attention by the international community. Attention, however, needs to be transformed into action for the advancement of women. What is required now is the fulfillment of the goals and objectives set by the Platform of Action adopted by the Fourth World Conference on Women, in Beijing in 1995.
In this regard, my delegation welcomes the General Assembly decision to convene, in the year 2000, a high level plenary review to appraise and assess the progress achieved in the implementation of the Nairobi Forward-Looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women and the Beijing Platform of Action. We hope that the outcome of that session will be able to adopt an innovative approach and action-oriented program toward the implementation of these important documents.
As we approach the end of the twentieth century, the world continues to witness and experience many problems concerning the advancement of women. Little progress has been achieved worldwide. Women continue to suffer from inequality, violence, huge increases in poverty, the negative effects of armed conflicts and foreign occupation and violation of their human rights. A genuine improvement of the status of women requires the political commitment of governments for finding solutions to these serious problems. Accordingly the advancement of women, their empowerment and their achievement of equality cannot be fully realized until peace, freedom and democracy prevail.
Palestinian women strive for peace, freedom and prosperity, yet they are faced with the harsh reality of the continuing Israeli occupation, which is the main obstacle in the path of their advancement. The building and expansion of illegal Israeli colonial settlements, the ongoing confiscation of land and water and the recurrent of closures of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and other oppressive measures, still have detrimental effects on the overall conditions of Palestinian women. Further, as the result of the long years of occupation, there has been a rise in the number of refugees and displaced persons, the break-up of families, a deterioration of health conditions, a decline in education and an increase in unemployment.
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 strategies necessary for establishing an independent, secure, and democratic Palestine. Based upon the principle of equality and social justice for all, draws upon the Palestine Liberation Organization and its principles, Palestinian womens main objectives are as follows:
To achieve these objectives the Palestinian National Authority established the Directorate of Gender Planning and Development (DGPD) in 1996. The DGPD is considered as one of the department of the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation of the Palestinian Authority. A few steps have been taking towards the achievements of the above-mentioned objectives and the implementation of the Beijing Platform of Action. However, it remains very difficult for Palestinian women to achieve their goals when their progress is undermined by the continuing harsh realities of the occupation.
The peace process has reached a dangerous level as a result of the Israeli policies and actions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem. The status and the living conditions of Palestinian women are closely linked with the progress of the peace process, as stated in the Secretary-Generals report (E/CN.6/1998/2Add.2), entitled "Situation of and assistance to Palestinian Women". As such, the serious deterioration of the peace process will impede any progress that Palestinian women are striving for.
Now is the time for the international community, especially the United Nations, to continue to support and increase their assistance to Palestinian women during this difficult time of their struggle to achieve equality, development and peace. I also wish to once again to emphasize the importance of implementing the integration of gender perspectives in all policies and programs of the agencies and bodies of the United Nations system toward the advancement and empowerment of Palestinian women.