A workshop on the findings of the study: “Re-integration of Women Survivors of Gender-Based Violence: Core Process for Combating Violence against Women in Palestinian Society”.

December 15, 2016

On December 15th , the Institute of Women’s Studies and the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation(AICS) - Jerusalem Office, organized a workshop on the findings of the study: “Re-integration of Women Survivors of Gender-Based Violence: Core Process for Combating Violence against Women in Palestinian Society”. The study was implemented by Nidaa Abu Awwad (Assistant Professor in social Sciences ), with the contribution of field workers Iman Assaf and Areen Hawari, in the framework of WELOD3 Programme – Women’s Empowerment and Local Development under the umbrella of the Institute of Women’s Studies.

The workshop opened with the speech of Dr. Asem Khalil, Vice President for Community Affair, as he emphasized the importance of institutes and centers in Birzeit University as a focal point for community service, engagement, and innovative action and the significance its advanced role in the effective influence on society and in identifying the social, cultural, economic and political needs addressing them through applied research and analysis of data and documents conducted by its various institutes and community centers that were established to respond to the needs of the Palestinian society. Dr. Khalil spoke about the nature of the tasks carried out by these institutes and community centers such as organized training seminars and workshops as well as conducting scientific research in various fields and offering post-graduate courses and programs in addition to studies and research on the various policies that contribute to the development of the Palestinian society. Khalil added that the academic and research activities of the Institute of Women's Studies, touch the heart of the desired objectives of the centers and institutes; as the Institute for Women's Studies conducts research on Palestinian women and gender relations in Palestinian society, both through its own research projects or through cooperation with other academic and research institutions, whether local, regional or international and then use the results of these researches to better understand the reality of Palestinian women to contribute to the process of social change in the policy formulation and development planning, as well as to contribute to the development of the women's movement program. At the conclusion of his speech, Khalil wished to attendees a fruitful and successful debate and to the Institute of Women's Studies continued success in academic work and community development studies.

The director of the Institute of Women’s Studies, Mrs. Eileen Kuttab, talked about the importance of the study as it represents one of the perspectives and goals and objectives of the institute in producing applied researches that localize theory and cohere with the colonized Palestinian context and sets basis for developing strategic policies and solutions to promote the process of positive change for women and other gender-based marginalized sectors. Kuttab said that researches not only produce knowledge but further represent a tool for social change and liberation from all kinds of oppression, as there’s a kind of integration between the various elements of the Master’s Program in Gender and Development that was launched in 1998 where students acquire theoretical concepts and develop research skills in order to understand the reality and change it, especially in relation with the violence that Palestinian women are exposed to in its three forms: colonial violence that both Palestinian men and women face; class violence and social violence that stems from the patriarchal and cultural system.

Kuttab emphasized the importance of this study as a part of an integrated program that include training workshops in the form of three mini-courses that focus on the theoretical framework of violence production and re-production in its cumulative and circular form and how it is linked to the Palestinians’ experience under the Israeli occupation from a gender perspective, as well as raising awareness of service providers in the public sector and non-governmental, private and others working in different fields such as female social workers, psychological guides, health personnel, workers in family sections of the police departments, women activists, and others; on combating violence on the legal, social and psychological level.

Kuttab pointed out that in this context, the study seeks to deepen the understanding of the of the socio-legal structure and to what extent it coheres with the process of re-integration of women survivors of gender-based violence in society and empowering of these women for a dignified life. At the conclusion of her speech, Miss Kuttab hoped that this study to promote further change in the stereotype of women victims of violence and their re-integration in the society and in the family with free will and dignity.

Mrs. Kristina Natoli, representative of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation- Jerusalem Office, opened her speech expressing her pleasure to be in this workshop pointing out that this research was accomplished with the financial support of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation and with the support of the ministry of Women’s Affairs and the Ministry of Social Development. Miss Natoli said that the WELOD3 Programme (Women’s Empowerment and Local Development) has supported and will continue supporting women facing political and social violence and that the process of re-integrating women survivors of GBV is a continuous and hard process because of family and social challenges those women face. Miss Natoli concluded her speech emphasizing the importance of the training courses implemented by the Institute of Women’s Studies particularly because of the role it plays in identifying and developing a legal provision related to families and domestic violence.

On behalf of the Ministry of Social Development, Mrs. Saida Al-Atrash, head of Gender Unit, opened her speech stressing that this study came in the framework of the immense need in the field of re-integrating women survivors of GBV and that the Ministry of Social Development consider this study as the main source to work on strategies related to this issue. Mrs. Al-Atrash concluded her speech pointing out that the Ministry of Social Development is committed to the recommendations outputs of the study and will work accordingly to them and asserted the importance of the cooperating relationship with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs that represents a key partner in policy making.

Mr. Amin Asi, acting general director of planning and policy unit in the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, said that the Israeli occupation plays a great role in violating women’s rights in addition to the dominating norms and culture in the Palestinian society. Asi emphasized the need to enforce the international conventions that protect women and to change the related laws as well as to change current policies in collaboration between international agencies and local women’s associations.

Then, Mrs. Carla Pagano, Head of Unit gender in "WELOD3" program, spoke about re-integration as a part of the rehabilitation process of women survivors of GBV, followed by the presentation of the study findings by Dr. Nidaa Abu Awwad. Afterwards, two women survivors of GBV, spoke about their personal experience reflecting the positive and empowering effects of the WELOD3 Programme on their lives after which the discussion was opened for the audience.