Gaza, 17 January 2019 - UN-Habitat and UN Women have concluded a two-year programme to advance the human rights of women and youth in the Gaza Strip and improve their capacity to participate effectively in post-conflict reconstruction and recovery.

Funded by the Government of the Kingdom of Belgium, the programme has been implemented jointly by UN-Habitat and UN Women in cooperation with the Palestinian Housing Council, AISHA Association for Women and Child Protection, and GGateway for Outsourcing Information. Digital technology was utilized to leverage participation of women and youth in establishing three safe and gender responsive public spaces that promote participation, accountability, empowerment and inclusion. More than 130,000 residents subjected to the stress of fragile social cohesion have benefited from the project. Three safe and inclusive public spaces have been developed under this programme. The third and last public space in Al-Zawayda town in the middle of the Gaza Strip was inaugurated on December 31, 2018.

Development of the Al-Zawayda community garden was accompanied by activities to promote engagement of youth and women in the process of post-conflict reconstruction in the Gaza Strip. More than 4,450 youth and adolescents have benefited from training programmes and awareness raising workshops on civic participation, concepts of gender equality, and prevention of and response to Gender Based Violence.

Nine female architects offered paid job placements in the targeted municipalities were engaged in the participatory design process for the public spaces to equip them with the skills and expertise needed to enter the labor market.

“Belgium believes that digital innovations are creating development opportunities faster than ever. The Internet and digital technologies already boost economic, social and political development, including by vastly expanding the capacity of individuals to enjoy their rights”, said Danielle Haven, the Consul General of Belgium.

“This project, by its very essence, carries a message of hope. Building safe public spaces by involving young people and women in the design and decision-making process ensures a safer environment, especially for women and girls. We visited one park before coming here and were very impressed by how the needs of all were considered at the design stage. We are happy to see the use of solar power and the attention given to access for people with disabilities”, she added.

Head of UN-Habitat Office in Palestine, Zeyad Elshakra emphasized UN-Habitat’s commitment to building a better, sustainable and more inclusive urban environment that promotes the equal use and enjoyment of cities without discrimination of any kind, especially for the most marginalized segments in the society, namely women and youth. “On this occasion, we invite all actors including governments and partners to utilize the capacity and harness the energy of young people to shape and develop their own environment and communities in order to accomplish the journey of leaving no one behind”, he said.

“We hope that this project is a start that we can build on to implement other initiatives in collaboration with our partners especially in the fields of women’s economic empowerment, women’s participation in decision making process and women’s protection from all kinds of violence”, said the Head of UN Women Office in Gaza, Heba Zayyan.

The project contributes to achievement of Sustainable Development Goals 11 and 5 and implementation of the New Urban Agenda in the Gaza Strip by improving the urban environment and living conditions for marginalized groups, with a special focus on. It has achieved this through development of inclusive and gender responsive public spaces that promote a safe and resilient urban environment in marginalized localities, and through empowering and raising awareness of women and girls to enhance their participation in decision making processes.