The suspending of aid to Palestine is a counterproductive action

SoME Gavobevis 2023

24 November 2023

Operation 1325 has been working with women rights and peace organisations in Palestine since the mid-2000s. Our joint activities have provided women with tools to strengthen their rights and equal participation, not least in peacebuilding processes. Since the Swedish government recently chose to suspend all development aid to Palestine, these important efforts to empower women have been hindered.

How Operation 1325 and our partners work in Palestine

Operation 1325’s overall objective is to promote the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (WPS). This commitment characterises our work in Palestine.

One example is our ongoing project “Operation 1325’s MENA Programme”, with support from ForumCiv, which aims to increase the conditions for women’s participation in peace processes at local and national level. Another is our recently completed project “Femininfluencer”, with support from the Swedish Institute, which aimed to strengthen and inspire young female activists to use social media as part of their advocacy work. In addition to acquiring new knowledge about communication as a mean of initiating change, and developing skills in negotiation and leadership, the project also resulted in the women gaining an enhanced understanding of the importance of gender equality, democracy, and freedom of expression.

Women’s rights and peace organisations, such as our partners Palestinian Center for Peace and Development (PCPD) and Palestinian Working Woman Society for Development (PWWSD), play a crucial role in the process of creating long-term and sustainable peace. By equipping women with more information and education, building network with experienced women activists, workshops and capacity building exercises, we are actively working towards the implementation of Resolution 1325. The projects thus empower Palestinian women and provide them with tools to participate where decisions about peace are made. Women are recognised as essential actors in achieving peace, and participants are given the opportunity to directly influence the situation of women in society.

The long-term goal of these efforts is to promote a sustainable and inclusive Palestinian society. This includes everything from strengthening women’s rights and the local community, to working long-term and holistically for a fair peace process. The work we do together is thus very important – not only to strengthen women’s self-confidence in general, and in peace processes in particular, but also because we are shaping the decision-makers of the future. Swedish aid does not support terrorists, but rather these kinds of efforts for women’s right to self-determination.

The importance of women’s equal participation in long-term peace efforts

In the new Swedish National Action Plan for Women, Peace and Security (WPS), the  government emphasises the importance of including women in peace processes. This should also be realised in practice.

According to the National Action Plan, “gender-equal peace processes and long-term state building are a prerequisite for sustainable peace and security”. This is exactly what Operation 1325 and our partners in Palestine are working towards. In accordance with Resolution 1325, we recognise the vital importance of including women in peace processes, not least in order to break patriarchal structures in society. Furthermore, the resolution recognises that women and men are affected differently in conflicts, something we are now seeing concrete examples of in Palestine. Almost 70 per cent of those killed in Gaza are women and children, and violence against Palestinians is also increasing in the West Bank. The government’s decision to withdraw development aid to Palestine at this stage goes against the long-term goal of promoting gender equality and sustainable peace and security.

To promote peace and development in Palestine and Israel, it is therefore necessary to maintain and support the ongoing efforts. By continuing to work to include women in peace processes, enabling women to make their own empowering decisions, and focusing on long-term goals, we can contribute to sustainable change and a more peaceful future in the country. Withdrawing aid is not only counterproductive but  risks worsening the already complex situation.

We look forward to a decision from the Swedish government following the review of the aid to Palestine, with deadline first of December. We hope that their decision will be in line with the review by EU which found that no development aid is going to Hamas and therefore can be resumed.

Text by Nanna Thydén, intern in communication at Operation 1325, and Anette Uddqvist, Director at Operation 1325.

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