Towards Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in the occupied Palestinian territory

The ILO aims to improve access to equal employment opportunities for women in the occupied Palestinian territory through decent jobs, market-driven skills, stronger cooperatives, improvement of working conditions as well as legal, economic and social empowerment.

Over the past decade the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) has witnessed a significant and persistent gender gap in labour force participation. While men's labour force participation rate has remained steady since 2000 (registering 68.7 percent by June 2013) women's labour force participation rate has remained at less than a quarter of men's rate, albeit rising from 13 percent in 2000 to 16 percent by June 2013.

A significant gender pay gap also persists in the oPt. Women's median daily wage is only 84 percent of men's. The gap is even wider in the manufacturing sector where women receive only 57 percent of the median wage of men. The prevalence and persistence pay discrimination against women is reflected in the 20 percent gender pay gap among recent graduates in their first private sector job. Prevalence of gender-based violence in the workplace has also started to appear. In a recent ILO survey, almost 23 percent of women have experienced some form of violence.

Improving women's access to decent work in the oPt needs to take into account the ramifications ensuing from continued Israeli occupation, the limited employment opportunities generated by the Palestinian economy, the inadequate provision of social protection, as well as social norms prevailing in Palestinian society.
Towards Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in the oPt aims to address these challenges through a participatory approach that focuses on promoting equality and empowering women to organize and enter the workplace. The project also intends to explore paid and unpaid care work to better understand and improve the terms and conditions of care workers. In addition, the project will work to strengthen women’s cooperatives as a way to promote economic opportunities and empower women. 


Project objectives will be realized through a set of outputs focusing on pay equity, violence-free workplaces as well as exploration of care infrastructure and provisions. Moreover, cooperatives will be strengthened both as a part of the delivery of other areas of work such as care provisioning and as a stand-alone effort.

Accordingly, the project aims to:
  • Promote non-discrimination in the workplace;
  • enhance women’s economic empowerment through innovative cooperatives;
  • improve the capacity of national institutions to address structural barriers impeding female labour force participation; and
  • create more jobs of higher quality at the grassroots and community levels by strengthening viable member-controlled cooperatives to work as social and economic enterprises.

Main Activities 

Towards Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in the oPt will aim to fulfil its objectives through a series of interventions, including:
  • Build the capacity of stakeholders to perform gender-neutral job evaluations, review legislation, formulate evidence-based policies as well as raise awareness of pay equity in the public and private sector;
  • raise awareness of gender-based violence in the workplace through development of appropriate behavioural change methodologies and the involvement of the private sector, social partners, civil society and the Ministry of Labour’s Labour Inspection Department;
  • explore of care infrastructures and provisions along with associated awareness creation and the formulation of corresponding policies;
  • identify new economic sub-sectors as well as non-traditional cooperative ventures and niches for women cooperatives where job-creating growth potential exists;
  • develop, adapt and disseminate financial and administrative management tools for women’s cooperatives through the establishment of a pool of trainers and facilitators;
  • build the capacity of oPt Ministry of Labour Coop Department workers to provide support services and guidance  to cooperatives;
  • enhance women’s cooperatives institutional knowledge in marketing, product quality improvement and value chain processes; and
  • develop linkages between local products and international markets.


  • An environment conducive to the development of cooperatives is promoted.
  • The capacity of labour market institutions to better understand and provide solutions to increase economic opportunities for women is built and enhanced.
  • Awareness on structural barriers limiting opportunities for women to enter the labour force is raised and disseminated.