With generous support from the Government of Japan, UN Women and the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme have been offering UN Volunteer opportunities for young women graduates in Gaza, State of Palestine. The assignments offer the graduates a career entry point to enhance their employability and actively engage in recovery efforts within their own communities.
The volunteering opportunities were with the UN Development Programme (UNDP), UN Population Fund (UNFPA), UN Human Rights (OHCHR), UN Women and UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). They aim at building the women UN Volunteers capacities, while raising their awareness of gender and protection concepts. They also promoted their participation in recovery efforts and increased their resilience, particularly as many were affected by the May 2021 escalation in Gaza.
Being a UN Volunteer provides young women graduates with an excellent opportunity for learning and skill development. It improves their employability prospects and enables them to contribute to the efforts in serving the Palestinian population in Gaza. --Maryse Guimond, Special Representative of UN Women in the State of Palestine
Field Engineer Samar Al-Hasany (26) is one of nine UN Community Volunteers who were deployed under this project, alongside other specialist and UN Youth Volunteers. She conducted field visits to ensure safety measures were practiced at construction sites. She also ensured that drawings, estimates and materials utilized to rebuild residential and commercial centres were consistent with international standards.
Serving as a UN Volunteer prepared me in ways I could not have predicted. It has helped me in my personal and professional development. I feel empowered, confident and close to my dream of working with the UN. -- Samar Al-Hasany, UN Community Volunteer with the UNDP Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People in Gaza
UN Volunteer Wafaa Abo Qamar (25) served as a community mobilizer with UNDP and supported field activities. She conducted needs assessments and prepared reports that captured the voices and concerns of the most vulnerable, to guide the interventions of humanitarian and development partners. As a law graduate, Wafaa found this experience eye-opening, because it introduced her to the complexity of the development process.
“This experience allowed me to look at justice and social cohesion through a human rights lens, while understanding their connection with development issues,” she explains. At the same time, Wafaa was inspired by participants in the training activities she supported. “I want to continue this work and spare no effort to make a change,” she added.
Heba Harara (32) serves as UN Volunteer Programme Assistant with UN Women in Gaza. "Although I had a very good position in a renowned humanitarian international organization," she shares, "I decided to join the UN Volunteers network, as I believe in the value of volunteering, especially in a crisis-affected and war-torn country like ours."
Even if my contributions might be minimal when compared with the needs of the people on the ground, I believe I should dedicate my skills and experience to support my people. I know very well what suffering and living under dire humanitarian situation means. --Heba Harara (32), UN Volunteer Programme Assistant with UN Women in Gaza
Beyond that, the UN Volunteers helped report human rights violations, capture the feedback and complaints of beneficiaries and conduct monitoring activities in multiple sectors.
Through their contributions, the UN Volunteers demonstrated a strong commitment to their community in Gaza, where more than 80 per cent of the population experiences food insecurity and is dependent upon humanitarian aid for survival. Their contribution to addressing the needs of conflict-affected women is particularly significant, because women suffer disproportionately during crises. This is due to increased care-giving responsibilities, fewer income-generating opportunities, and an ever-growing risk of gender-based violence.
The partnership with UNV falls within the framework of protecting and strengthening the resilience of women and girls affected by the May 2021 escalation/conflict in Gaza, a project generously funded by the Government of Japan.
The project has supported around 5,980 conflict-affected and at-risk women and girls to increase their access to quality multi-sectorial services. These include prevention of and response to gender-based violence and skill-matching cash-for-work opportunities in Gaza.