This report for the first time examines the realities of life of Jerusalem’s women, who live in a city annexed by Israel in 1967 and ruled by it ever since, from a gender and human rights perspective — and therein lies its uniqueness.
It was born out of recognition of the immediate need to protect women and ensure the realization of their rights, without it being entirely dependent on ending the occupation and Israel’s rule, nor on normalizing or legitimizing it.
In the past few weeks Jerusalem has been up in flames. Between the decision to block the Damascus Gate Plaza during Ramadan and limit the entry of Muslim worshipers into the city, and the visible increase in the presence of Israeli troops in the Palestinian neighborhoods, Jerusalem has turned into an actual battlefield.
Women are the first to get hurt in conflict zones, especially in times of escalation. This is one the basic premises that led the United Nations Security Council to pass Resolution 1325 in the first place, and it is what guided us throughout the process of writing of this report. Now, in light of recent developments and the turmoil in the city, it guides us even more.
Political plans proposed over the years did not take gender aspects and women’s positions into account, and were conspicuous for the absence of women’s participation. Furthermore, most of them focused on matters of security and religion, and neglected the human rights aspect.
This report is not meant to offer a comprehensive political solution, but to address the violation of the right to national equality and the right to gender equality, as well as the tension and interdependence between the two.
The gender perspective is evident in the spotlight turned on Jerusalem’s women, their life experiences, and the issues preoccupying them. It is also manifested in our research methodology: in-depth interviews that challenge the paradigmatic patriarchal lens customarily used to look at Jerusalem and that create a space for dialogue, diversity, and an emphasis on everyday reality.
The focus on human rights is primarily seen in our effort to map out the violated rights, based on the experiences and perspectives presented in the interviews. It is even more distinct in the challenge that this report poses to the hegemonic militaristic and patriarchal definition of security that has shaped the normative discourse about Jerusalem, as well as in the introduction of alternative definitions that meet the different needs of diverse women living in the city.
In our view, looking at the reality of life in an annexed city that is a core issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from a gender perspective is the best way to mark not only 54 years of occupation, but also the 20th anniversary of Resolution 1325, in a way that takes a critical view of the resolution and its local application but also implements it.
We believe that any comprehensive future solution will require such contemplation of all the components of Resolution 1325. Much like the different organizations working to promote equality and justice in the city, we believe that such a solution will need to recognize the two peoples’ connection to Jerusalem, as well as their national aspirations and rights.