New publication by Gisha on International Women’s Day: Dreams Deferred – The impact of the closure on women in the Gaza Strip

Wednesday, March 7, 2018: To mark International Women’s Day, Gisha is presenting new findings and analysis on the impact of the Gaza closure on women. After decades of restrictions on access imposed by Israel, and internal Palestinian conflict, as well as the ongoing closure of the Rafah Crossing to Egypt, Gaza’s economy is collapsing. The unemployment rate among women, which reached almost 66% in 2017, is one of the most severe outcomes of this collapse.

The publication points to some of the unique ways that the closure affects the lives of Palestinian women living in the Strip. It addresses the detrimental effects of the closure on family life, access to education, the work of civil society organizations, and the limited opportunities for personal and professional development. In addition to a staggering 200% increase in the number of women seeking employment in the Strip over the last decade, the rate of unemployment among women with more than 13 years of education has also grown significantly, from 44.3% in 2005 to 68.9% in 2017.

More than 85% of women in Gaza’s workforce work in service sector professions, such as teaching and nursing. Others tend to work in civil society organizations, small businesses, and in professions previously monopolized by men, such as banking, investment, and management. Under Israel’s limited criteria for movement out of Gaza, people working in these fields are not eligible to apply for exit permits for the purpose of pursuing opportunities for professional development. Severe restrictions on the movement of goods into and out of Gaza, as well as Israel’s control over Gaza’s sea and land spaces, have pushed women out of economic sectors they used to participate in before the closure was tightened: The number of women working in agriculture and fishing plummeted from 36% in 2007 to only 3% in the last quarter of 2017. Prohibitions on exiting Gaza with luggage and sending parcels by mail also prevent women from engaging in small-scale trade.

Israel can and must do much more to stop impeding women’s participation in the development of Gaza’s economy, and to stop undermining normal societal function in the Strip. If Israel gives itself license to manage Gaza’s economy, and given the recent warnings by senior Israeli military officials of the implications of economic collapse in Gaza for regional stability, Israel must recognize its responsibility for the social and gender-specific impact of its policies. Travel restrictions violate Gaza women’s right to freedom of movement, splitting apart families, hindering economic development, and denying a dignified life to all its residents. Israel must recognize women in Gaza as an essential part of the manufacturing sector in Gaza and allow women to exit the Strip in order to pursue economic opportunities, subject only to individual security screening.

To read Dreams Deferred, click here.