MIFTAH poll showcases citizen satisfaction on gender-based LGU services in the West Bank and Khan Younis
Ramallah – The main results of an opinion poll recently conducted by MIFTAH on the level of citizen satisfaction towards LGU services in the West Bank and Khan Younis district on a gender basis, showed their dissatisfaction in four areas, including the quality and organization of services, the administration and follow-up of complaints, the jurisdictions granted local councils and the accessibility to information pertaining to LGU services and their procedures.
The responses from women regarding their satisfaction towards accessing information about the work of LGUs showed a lack of access to this information on the basis of dissemination mechanism and transparency of standards
The overall level of satisfaction on complaints, their management and follow-up was very low, at 31% (32% males and 30% females) while the percentage of satisfaction among females was lower than average in the areas of complaints management and follow-up of services such as sewage management and public toilets (16%), public places and parks (24%) and services pertaining to the encouragement and regulation of crafts and industries (26%). Meanwhile, the level of satisfaction also noticeably dropped among females from the overall average regarding safe sidewalks and their accessibility to special needs persons and baby carriages, to 31.9%. The satisfaction rate was 32.9% regarding the areas for parking cars in front of schools, service centers and stores.
In terms of women’s responses to the management and follow-up of complaints, the most prominent hindrances were related to the tribal social structure in following up complaints and also their follow-up according to the sex of the complainant and the jurisdictions of the local council in carrying out the law.
The recommendations from this study include: the review of Article 15 of the Local Council Law No. 1 of 1997; clarification of the scope of jurisdiction for LGUs in areas that largely overlap with other laws and regulations, especially in the fields of electricity, energy, water, transportation and health; promoting systems of social monitoring and accountability; promoting women’s participation in social accountability; review of the gender charter signed by a number of municipalities, which is aimed at reviving the issue of gender to create a safe and motivating political environment that guarantees women’s participation in accountability processes and their access to knowledge. The study also recommended an earnest review of the percentage of women’s representation in LGUs and of experts in the field of LGUs who could rearrange services within a framework that serves the special needs of working women, students, those with special needs and children, and minimize the compounded burden on them as a result of the stereotypical roles of women.
MIFTAH developed a public policy paper on improving services provided by LGUs aimed at increasing gender integration in local government
The public policy paper developed by MIFTAH about the poll showed various points of dissatisfaction. One was the people’s lack of knowledge of what goes on in LGUs and the fact they do not receive the necessary information from them. This led to their dissatisfaction in many cases, especially among women. The poll results showed that the percentage of those who frequented LGUs to receive one or more service last year was only 67.6% males and 37.9% females. The rest of those polled formed their opinions from receiving services more than a year ago or based on the experiences of relatives, neighbors or acquaintances.
The public policy paper called for promoting the perspective of social solidarity in LGU policies and subjecting the taxation and fees system to this perspective so that the citizen registry system and the personal and social status system is updated, and that a tax system is implemented that takes into consideration social differences and also the social status of families, especially those head by women. This would allow for exemptions or a taxes and fees schedule in accordance with social status or in coordination with the relevant parties, including the Ministry of Social Development, to offer support in this regard. This, the paper concluded, could lead to the improvement of services and therefore raise the level of satisfaction among citizens towards LGU services.
In order to achieve this, the policy paper recommended active communication between LGUs and women in particular, and citizens in general, based on the consideration that women in society are the source of energy, capabilities and potentials that positively reflect on the development process. The second policy proposed by the paper is for gender to be one criterion for planning, monitoring and evaluation, based on the premise that planning from a gender perspective could lead to dealing with the means of exclusion and isolation and to creating change in gender relations in society.
It should be mentioned that these efforts, which were made in cooperation and coordination with the Gender Forum in Local Governance, are within a framework for promoting the role of civil society institutions and members of the forum, in holding accountable LGUs and the Ministry of Local Government, based on Article 15 of the Local Government Law No. 1 of 1997. The efforts are aimed at identifying a group of strategic issues, which MIFTAH and the Gender Forum seek to address in the lobbying process in order to develop and enact policies to increase the number of women and girls with access to LGU services. This, in turn would reinforce the chances for women to participate in social and economic life.
The poll results are preceded by previous MIFTAH studies, all aimed at focusing on gender integration and institutionalization in local government policies and procedures from the perspective of equal participation in decision-making, planning and accountability and in their relation to defending the promotion of gender considerations in the distribution of resources; they also focused on the strategic approaches of LGUs, and the regulation of their work in a way that would close the prevailing gap on a gender basis; on concerted efforts towards creating equality of opportunities for men and women to participate in social and economic development; expanding participation in confronting the challenges imposed by the political climate, represented in the continued colonialist occupation of land and resources, including water, infrastructure, borders, roads, etc. in addition to the continued political division. The studies also called for creating opportunities for discussions and dialogue on regulating the political climate for local governments as stipulated in Article 15 of the Local Government Law No. 1 of 1997 and its amendments on regulations and bylaws that express the revival of the legislative mandate in a way that does not contravene with the provisions of other Palestinian laws and decisions that intersect with the regulations and bylaws unified by the Ministry of Local Government for LGUs.