ECOSOC Special Consultative Status
In 2005, WCLAC was granted special consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), recognising it as an international promoter of human rights, with a consolidated position in Palestinian and global civil society. This consultative status accredits WCLAC to submit official reports to certain bodies and to speak at and attend meetings of others’. The reports that WCLAC submits to UN bodies using ECOSOC Special Consultative Status can be found here.
Membership of the Board of the Board of Directors of the Alimony Fund
WCLAC was a driving force in establishing the alimony fund, which was established by presidential decree following pressure and support from WCLAC and other women’s organisations. Members of the Board of the Directors include representatives of Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Social Affairs and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, the Office of the Judge of Judges (of the Sharia court) and the General Union of Palestinian Women, in addition to WCLAC.
Human rights and leadership awards
In recognition of WCLAC’s achievements, the Centre was given a “mention speciale” by the 1998 French National Consultative Committee for Human Rights, for its initiative to influence Palestinian decision makers and legislature in adopting laws, legislation and policies enshrining the rights of Palestinian women.
In 2002, WCLAC Director Maha Abu-Dayyeh was named “Ms Magazine Woman of the Year”, while, in 2005, a Palestinian development foundation called the Welfare Association, awarded WCLAC the “2005 Excellence in Achievement Award.”
International Network Memberships
Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network Membership
WCLAC has provisional membership of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) until the next General Assembly meeting in which it is hoped the General Assembly will endorse the EMHRN Executive Committee’s recommendation for membership. Membership would give WCLAC access to more forums in which it to promote the specific rights issues faced by women living under patriarchy and under occupation, as well as another partner through which WCLAC can contribute to voicing Palestinian civil societies concerns.
The AISHA Network comprises women’s organisations – chiefly secular organisations which situate themselves within a global feminist movement – drawn from across the Middle East and North Africa region.
The SALMA Network comprises women’s organisations from across the Middle East and North Africa, particularly those working for legal reform in favour women.
The newly formed network is led by the Teacher’s Creativity Centre and focuses on the political participation of women.
National Coalition and Forum Memberships
Council of Palestinian Human Rights Organisations
This Coalition was formed in 2008 with WCLAC, Al Haq, Centre for Rehabilitation of Tortured Victims, DCI, Mandela and the Jerusalem Centre for Legal Aid. Its mission is to identify human rights violations and to monitor and report them to the relevant authorities, to visit Palestinian prisons, to issue reports of violations and to receive complaints from citizens.
NGO Forum on Violence Against Women
WCLAC led the Forum (often known as Al-Muntada) from 2008-2010, during which time successful events included high-profile moot courts (simulated trials) held with an audience of political and civil society leaders, policy-makers and high-level members of service provision bodies. Drawing sometimes on WCLAC’s own cases, the moot courts highlighted short-comings in the current legislation with regards to upholding women’s rights. The Forum continues to promote legal development for improved gender justice as well as presenting a consolidated civil society voice on particular within its mandate.
Criminal Law Coalition
WCLAC is a founder member of the civil society Criminal Law Coalition. The coalition brings together civil society organisations, to seek to unify and reinforce civil society demands for change in the Criminal Law to help bring to an end entrenched legal discrimination against women. In particular the Coalition has promoted an end to lenient sentencing for the killing of women and improved legal provision for safe abortion under certain circumstances. Under the current Criminal Law, a murder sentence may be reduced to a matter of a few months if the murder of a woman is claimed to be a so-called “honour killing”, which can even lead to the release of a convicted murderer from court on account time served while awaiting trial. WCLAC and the Criminal Law Coalition support Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s call in 2010 for an immediate moratorium on the reduction of sentences for crimes claimed as honour.
Personal Status Law Coalition
WCLAC is a founder member of the Personal Status Law Coalition. The Personal Status Law governs issues such as marriage, divorce and child custody. The civil society coalition campaigns to improve the legislative environment in which women try to claim their rights both in Gaza and the West Bank. Personal Status Law in OPT is an outdated patchwork, with old Egyptian law being used in Gaza, old Jordanian law being used in the majority of the West Bank and a separate legal regime in place in occupied East Jerusalem. The coalition has successfully drafted a combined Personal Status Law, with significant consultation across Gaza and the West Bank. In view of uncertainty as to the potential for passing such a law, the Coalition is also campaigning for reforms to existing law which would focus on six key areas: marriage age, commonwealth, polygamy, divorce, custody and equal legal status (for example as witnesses in marital disputes).
Palestinian Forum for Safe Abortion
This coalition was formed by an initiative of the Family Planning Association aiming to develop a consensus on the issue of abortion in Palestine, to advocate for change to abortion laws and to raise awareness of the dangers of unsafe abortion. Among its 10 members are Palestinian social, legal and health NGOs, women’s organisations and UNWRA .
National Committee to Support Women in the Workforce
This committee was formed in 2011 to improve policies that control the entry of women into the workforce, provide women with equal employment opportunities and combat discrimination against women in the workforce.