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Roles for Social Change Association - ADWAR

The Challenge

Palestinian girls and women living under Israeli occupation in Hebron are subject to discrimination because of both their ethnicity and their gender. Their aspiration for equal rights is severely restricted by the occupation and by patriarchal attitudes within Palestinian society.

The gender inequality in Hebron is sustained not only because of conservative social attitudes but also because of poverty, economic barriers and legislation. Freedom to make choices is limited by the fact that in many homes it is the men - fathers, brothers, husbands - who have control over finances.

Access to education is extremely challenging for social and political reasons. School dropout rates are on the rise, particularly in Bedouin communities where parents refuse to let their daughters attend mixed-sex schools. In some parts of Hebron, Israeli authorities have prohibited the construction of school buildings leaving girls to attend classes in open air spaces or on caravan sites.

There are not enough public places like libraries, parks or sports facilities where girls and women can undertake leisure activities comfortably. Between the social, political and economic pressures, girls and women in Hebron feel physically and psychologically confined. In this context, they are more vulnerable to violence, abuse and exploitation.

The Response

Roles for Social Change Association -ADWAR was established in 2010 by a group of students from Hebron universities who wanted to close the gender gap and promote women’s participation in public life.  

ADWAR works with girls and women to improve their understanding of gender relations, violence and rights. It seeks to improve self-esteem and self-confidence and increase their knowledge of socio-political issues.

The organisation works to modify school curricula to promote positive, non-stereotypical images of women and girls. It also engages with parents and school staff to prevent early marriages and reduce school dropout rates. ADWAR also provides girls with psychological support services and works to expand their access to non-traditional jobs by building their capacity through workshops and training sessions.

ADWAR addresses the declining participation of Hebron women in civilian and democratic life by raising their awareness on national and political matters, particularly in the areas of law and elections. It does this via campaigns and advocacy activities in partnership with local and international coalitions. ADWAR is also lobbying for legislative changes to promote and defend the rights of women and girls.

Working in a difficult environment, ADWAR has successfully reached remote and dangerous areas of the Palestinian Territories to reach over 3,800 people.