The tenants of the Italian Tower trying to salvage some of their belongings, Al Naser Neighborhood, Gaza, 26 August 2014.
Photo: NRC/ Emad Badwan.
NRC´s new report – Gaza: The Impact of the Conflict on Women looks into the occupation, conflict and Israeli imposed blockade and women’s lives in Gaza. The conflict left more than 2,200 dead and more than 19,000 homes destroyed or uninhabitable. At its peak, 485,000 Palestinians, 28 per cent of the population, were internally displaced.
Over a year after the July-August 2014 Israeli military operation on Gaza, women remain profoundly affected.
I still can’t understand how I didn’t get injured when others died or were injured. I saw the rocket coming down. I can picture it as it came down. It was red. It was coming down towards me. This cannot escape my mind. Now if I hear war planes I feel terrified.
The report provides a window into women’s memories of the conflict, offering insights into their experiences of displacement and how they are rebuilding their lives. The report also considers the continuing impact of the conflict, blockade and humanitarian crisis on women and their families. It documents their difficulties and makes suggestions as to how organisations working in Gaza can address them.
Destruction of property
For many, the most pressing concern was the damage and destruction of their homes. Over forty per cent of those interviewed had not yet been able to return because their homes were destroyed or their houses were not safe.
Widows lose rights to family home
Women’s housing, land and property (HLP) rights are crucially important in these times of crisis. Security of tenure is essential to protect women and their families from eviction. The report shows that when women are widowed or divorced, they can lose the right to remain in their homes. The concept of shared matrimonial property does not exist in Palestinian law, effectively denying women any legal claim to housing. Marrying a brother-in-law is sometimes the only option for women who wish to remain in the family home and avoid disputes over custody of their children.
Housing in womens’s names
NRC´s previous report Realities from the Ground: Women’s Housing, Land and Property Rights in the Gaza Strip, shows that when humanitarian organisations allocate shelter in the name of male heads of households it can lead to women being evicted from their homes or being excluded from reconstruction assistance. This practice is changing. Since May 2015, UNRWA has included women’s names on documentation for homes in re-housing projects.
This policy leads to greater security of tenure and protection of women’s housing rights. In this latest report, NRC recommends that a similar approach is implemented by all organisations providing new housing in the Gaza Strip:
- All UN agencies and INGOs should consider their obligations to ensure security of tenure for women in their shelter and housing programmes. All new homes built in the Gaza Strip should be designated to husbands and wives jointly.
- NRC also recommends to take this one step further: International organisations such as UNDP and UNRWA who award reconstruction grants, should invite the recipients to register their land in the name of both spouses, not just the name of the male head of household.
For further information please contact Wafa Kafarna, ICLA Project Manager – Gaza (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) provides humanitarian assistance to the residents of the Gaza Strip through a variety of programmes in the areas of Shelter, Education, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), Urban Displacement Out of Camps (UDOC), Gender Based Violence (GBV), Child Protection and Information, Counselling and Legal Assistance (ICLA). Through its on-going work and as a result of earlier research studies conducted in the Gaza Strip, NRC has a particular concern about the impact on women of the on-going occupation and periodic conflict and the significant challenges faced by women in accessing their rights.