(February 2014) Culture of marginalizing gender equality impact on sustainable development in Palestine
The Oslo Accords for “peace” negotiations (1993-2000) between the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the State of Israel embraced policies for capacity building in the Palestinian Territories. Gender equality, culture, democracy and other modern development programs often were addressed as pre-conditions for international funds. This is advocated within the general discourses of inclusion of sustainable development. Indeed the promotion of gender issues in policies for development responds to the problem that men dominate planning and decision-making in both rural and urban areas. This may also establish social responsibility among the public towards the implemented development projects and perhaps achieve sustainability. However, the way “gender” is integrated in policies for development seems to have been either superficial or Western-centric. This study investigates the ways gender issues are promoted in internationally financed development programs and how local communities respond to these programs. Field research is carried out inQaffin town in Tulkarem Governorate, andMisliya Village in Jenin Governorate through an action research methodology. This includes reflections on development projects financed by European and American donors and implemented under the supervision of international NGOs working in Palestinian territories The preliminary findings show that current programs for societal and infrastructure development in the two cases embrace weak policies for investment in community development with shallow actions. More important is how such programs challenge the locals’ conceptions of gender and traditions of voluntary works. Instead of establishing social responsibility towards the implemented programs the implemented policies for "inclusion" trigger locals' resistance of social responsibility towards these programs which appears in faking gender sensitivity to please donors and thereby obstruct any long term approach for development. To re-produce such passive resistance into social responsibility this study suggests the need for potential investment in community development from within its native environment. Rather than solely inclusion of people from both sexes, inclusion should embrace effective participation of all kinds of community groups disregard of age, gender, religion, health conditions, ethnicity or social class. This might advance a new culture of public participation in which gender equality is an integrated issue in the policies for development rather than being everything and nothing. .
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