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Date posted: March 14, 2019
By MIFTAH

Ramallah MIFTAH and the Forum for Gender and Local Governance Al Muntada held a conference on the results of the perceptions survey on services provided by the LGUs from a gender perspective and the special review of the Gender Charter, which was carried out with support from GIZ and commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) (BMZ). The conference is part of the Program, Strengthening women in decision-making in the Middle East LEAD which aims at fostering a supportive climate for gender integration in local government policies.

In its closing session, the conference called for a review of the Gender Charter and for parts of it to be turned into law. It also called for the formation of a unifying body of womens and public institutions to review the charter, support its implementation and set the groundwork for creating platforms to mainstream the gender charter at the social level and to build bridges between male and female LGU members to promote social values based on democracy, equality and social justice.

The conference also confirmed the need to review laws pertaining to the jurisdictions of LGUs and to call on the Ministry of Local Government to lead an initiative to implement the electoral reforms approved by the Central Elections Commission. It also called for a law that allows broader participation of women in managing the different committees within LGUs and for civil society institutions to coordinate among themselves to make changes through lobbying and social accountability; it also called for womens roles in LGUs not to be confined to implementation but to extend beyond this to participation in strategic planning.

MIFTAH Executive Director, Ibtisam Husary opened the conference by welcoming the audience and citing MIFTAHs efforts on the topic at hand. She briefed them on how MIFTAH has been working strategically since 2003 on promoting the leadership role of women and youth in Palestinian districts, on its endorsement of youth and womens participation in the decision-making process , on formulating policies at the local and national levels and in the political and social fields to impact gender strategies. She also stressed on the importance of gender equality in LGUs and in supporting the leadership role of women in these units.

Husary said this project is aimed at providing female LGU members with leadership skills necessary for supporting them in leadership roles within these units and to highlight the active roles Palestinian women play in LGUs in influencing decision making and community development. The program, she said, also aims at creating a supportive environment to encourage womens active involvement within the different technical, policy or administrative LGU committees and at guaranteeing a broader participation and dialogue between the relevant parties to produce gender-responsive recommendations.

On his part, Deputy Minister of Local Government Mohammed Jabareen highlighted the supportive role the ministry plays towards women in LGUs. He said it was a central role that takes into consideration womens participation in the formulation of plans, policies and strategies. Upon instructions from the government, we are working on amendments to the electoral system in a way that will guarantee fairness to women and raise the percentage of the womens quota. He pointed to the ministrys support and equality between male and female members pertaining to all enacted laws and regulations in the ministry so that women are partners in all committees and in all gender plans and strategies.

The participants then discussed the results of MIFTAHs perceptions survey on services provided by the LGUs from a gender perspective. The overall average of citizen satisfaction with the performance of LGUs was 44.2%. There was a close proximity between men and women (44.5% among females and 43.7% among males). Furthermore, the special review of the Gender Charter was discussed, with focus on the challenges of implementing this charter in LGUs. They also proposed amendments to the charters wording in a manner that supports it implementation.

The conference held discussions on: the most gender-responsive policies; promotion of the leadership role of women LGU members; guaranteeing the broadest possible representation of women in LGUs; influencing the formulation of public policies in a way that will support womens access to services provided by LGUs, whether as elected members or women active in LGU work. This took place after a number of trainings MIFTAH held to support women members to actively participate in the various committees in LGUs. It also produced a number of studies, papers and supporting evidence, the results of which show the gender gaps in policies and within LGUs, including procedures, executive plans and participation. This reflects the challenges women still face in centers of decision-making in LGUs due to their inadequate representation and the absence of influence, which necessarily reflects on meeting the needs of women in communities and on their access to services.

Local government policies for promoting gender mainstreaming in LGUs, included in the 2014 Gender Charter, were also showcased during the conference. The charter includes articles calling for gender mainstreaming in these units and the need to follow with executive procedures and regulations to enact the charter in all LGUs. It also called for strengthening the monitoring role of civil society institutions in its execution through imposing monitoring tools on the management of the complaint process in LGUs. Other points in the charter include: the need to prepare executive procedures and regulations in a way that will promote womens participation in internal and external official delegations and in signing financial transactions; to promote womens participation in their councils special meetings; to ensure effective division of authority in the decision-making process; to reaffirm priorities in terms of gender issues in plans and programs; to promote the role of women members in the follow-up, evaluation, complaints and grievances system; to consider any lack of commitment to the charter as a violation; to ensure the right of women members to obtain knowledge and access information pertaining to the work of their LGU. In this regard, the perceptions survey showed a 5.5% discrepancy in satisfaction between male and female citizens towards clarity of the procedures when applying for services. This demonstrates a disparity in terms of equal opportunities in obtaining information.

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