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Women's committees in Gaza stage sit-in to demand equal pay to men

July 6, 2017 5:33 P.M. (Updated: July 14, 2017 6:46 P.M.)
GAZA (Ma’an) – A group of women's committees in the besieged Gaza Strip organized a sit-in on Thursday to demand equal pay between men and women in the coastal enclave amid soaring unemployment rates compounded by Israel’s decade-long siege on the territory.

A member of the Central Committee of the Palestinian People’s Party and head of the Working Women Committees in Gaza Laila Khashan said that local and national institutions must provide equal salaries for women and men in the besieged enclave and work to “defend their rights.”

Khashan noted that the Israeli siege on Gaza has escalated the suffering of Palestinian people, particularly Palestinian women who “bear heavy burdens,” and highlighted the necessity of applying a minimum wage that would be equal to both women and men.

Khasan also emphasized that the unemployment rate had reached 41 percent in the besieged Gaza Strip, with the unemployment rate for women there reaching an astounding 64 percent.

She called upon the Palestinian government to take steps to lessen the wage gap between women and men in Gaza’s labor market, and to end the Palestinian national conflict in order to form an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Last year, Head of the Association Of Women’s Work Committees Arij al-Atrash said unemployment was the biggest issue facing the Palestinian economy in Gaza, as the crippling Israeli blockade on the enclave has severely limited opportunities for job creation.

According to a 2016 report by Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), male participation in the workforce in both the Gaza Strip and occupied West Bank was 71.9 percent higher than that of women.

In addition, PCBS reported that the average daily wage for Palestinian women in 2015 was around 90 shekels ($26), while Palestinian men made an average daily wage of 108 shekels ($31).

The Gaza Strip, meanwhile, has continued to plummet into a humanitarian catastrophe owing to Israel’s siege and the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s recent policies aimed at putting pressure on Hamas, the de facto leaders of the territory, by intentionally exacerbating the difficulties of life for everyday residents in Gaza.

After Israel cut Gaza’s electricity supply by up to 60 percent, upon the request of the PA, Egypt stepped in to provide fuel in order to avert a full collapse in the besieged territory.

However, Gaza has continued to reel from a power shortage, only receiving a few hours of electricity a day, while repressive PA policies, such as cutting their Gaza-based employees’ salaries, halting medical referrals to patients in Gaza to receive medical treatment outside of the territory, and cutting its funding to Gaza’s medical sector.

The UN has warned if that current trends are not altered, Gaza could become “uninhabitable” by 2020.
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