WCLAC’s Documentation and Advocacy Unit uses feminist principles to produce women-centred knowledge and to promote women’s rights on the political agenda, pushing for the legal and cultural adoption of international legal standards and gender-equitable social norms in which women’s rights are defended, promoted and upheld.
Legal reform advocacy
WCLAC seeks to contribute to the development of both a legislative environment and specific institutional policies that support, protect and empower women.
WCLAC uses a strategy of coalition-based advocacy for legal reform on issues such as campaign for reform of the criminal law and of the personal status law. Major issues being addressed within the criminal include ending the reduction of murder sentences in femicides in which the crime is linked to an issue of so-called honour. The personal status law governs issues of marriage and divorce; WCLAC and the Personal Status Law Coalition particularly work for reform of articles relating to six key issues: marriage age, commonwealth, polygamy, divorce, custody and equal legal status (for example as witnesses in marital disputes).
In addition to long-running and high-profile campaigns on criminal law and personal status law, WCLAC is working to develop a Law on Family Protection from Violence, and also seeking to introduce gender-justice-driven reforms to regulations on women’s finance and inheritance rights.
A full list and details of WCLAC’s partnerships and memberships within coalitions, campaign groups and networks can be found here (link to Who we are > Affiliations).
Women’s voices – documenting Israel’s international humanitarian law (IHL) violations
WCLAC has a team of female fieldworkers documenting the gender-specific impact of Israeli breaches of international human rights and humanitarian law in Gaza and in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
WCLAC combines the feminist practice of promoting women’s voices and the women-centred production of knowledge into areas of discourse in which they are crucially underrepresented. While Israeli rights violations have a detrimental impact on all of Palestinian society, the impact on women is particular, and often heightened, due to the social expectations of the female gender roles for Palestinians.
WCLAC’s documentation is used in international advocacy, both as powerful stories highlighting the need for international policy change towards Palestinians’ human rights, and as an evidence base for alternative reports being submitted (using WCLAC’s ECOSOC Special Consultative Status) to monitoring committees and treaty bodies.
Documentation of femicide
WCLAC has documented the gender-based murder of Palestinian women since 2004, using the term femicide rather than the term “honour killing” which might infer some justification of what is, to WCLAC, the violent and needless death of a woman, often by a family member or intimate partner, and is in no way honourable. The documentation is used to give background to the statistics and to build a base of qualitative knowledge on an issue in which WCLAC and others believe the numbers significantly understate the scale of the problem.
WCLAC has two publications from recent years analysing the issue of femicide, they can be found in WCLAC’s documentation on this website, or through following the links below:
- 2011 – “Women without a name”
- 2004 – “Mapping and analysing the landscape of femicide in Palestinian society”
Staff from WCLAC’s Documentation and Advocacy Unit disseminate information on international human rights standards and on the latest developments in national legal reform campaigns through awareness-raising workshops.
WCLAC uses a variety of methodologies for raising awareness through workshops which are targeted to optimise the impact of WCLAC’s message and tailored to particular audiences. Each year WCLAC holds dozens of information sessions in partnership with numerous community based organisations and village and refugee camp councils. Often the workshops tackle a single issue on which the community has requested information (e.g. gender issues, personal status law, CEDAW) and participants include multipliers in the community such as local authorities, school teachers, women’s group leaders and other influential personalities – both men and women.
Other workshops target a particular women’s groups and work together with them for a series of around 7-10 workshops. The use of a series of workshops spread over several months allows groups to create a safe environment for discussing local rights issues, and offers plenty of opportunities for women – as rights-holders – to seek specific advice relating to their lives, whether in plenary discussion, in a one-to-one consultation following a workshop, or through becoming a client with WCLAC.