As part of the project “Ambassadors for Women’s Rights”, implemented with the support and partnership of the Heinrich Böll Foundation - Palestine and Jordan, the Community Media Center (CMC) in Gaza released a qualitative study titled “The Reality of Female Academics in Academic Institutions in the Gaza Strip”, in both Arabic and English. The study that was conducted by Dr. Abeer Thabet diagnosed the reality for female academics; the difficulties, challenges, and opportunities as well as gender-based discrimination practiced against them within academic institutions.
The results of the study were shocking and recommendations were presented accordingly in the project’s virtual closing conference held via Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A questionnaire was used as a tool to collect quantitative data for the study. Twenty in-depth interviews were conducted in five Gazan universities (Al Azhar University, Islamic University of Gaza, Al-Aqsa University, Al-Quds University, and Gaza University) as well as interviews with female leaders from women’s organizations, focus groups and case studies.
On the importance of the study, Thabet emphasized the importance of the study: “the study focused on the challenges facing women academics in universities in the Gaza Strip and the level of their knowledge of their rights. Additionally, the study examined the level of commitment by academic institutions in implementing and adhering to Palestinian laws, conventions, and mechanisms for defending women’s rights”.
The study concluded that academic institutions only partially adhere to laws and agreements towards full time female academics, while they discriminate against those working on a part-time basis. This includes aspects such as permanent status regulations, financial rights and administrative assignments and course distribution. The study also found that the interference of political factions in the policies of academic institutions affects the hiring opportunities of independent non-politically affiliated female academics. These interferences influence hiring processes and the types of contracts signed as political affiliations determine, to a large extent, who takes up administrative and leadership positions.
Furthermore, the study highlights the prevalence of a culture of patriarchy within academic institutions. According to Thabet, “female academies face many challenges, the most prominent of which is the policy of exclusion and marginalization. Some academics refuse to cooperate with them, or even their presence in fields such as medicine and engineering, unless there is no male academic in the same specialty."
Finally, the study presents a set of recommendations regarding reforms needed within academic institutions to change the reality of female academics. These include administrative laws and regulations that, either directly or indirectly, contribute to a patriarchal culture. These institutions need to achieve equality in appointments, especially for leadership positions. The study also addressed the Palestinian Authority with a set of recommendations. Among them was to reformulate educational curricula in a way to strengthen the concepts of gender equality, to redefine the role of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, and to adopt a strategy concerning the accountability for academic institutions in their treatment of female academics. The study also discussed the role of civil society organizations recommending that they place emphasis of the issues facing female academics, to open channels of communication with them and to dedicate programs that build their capacities, trigger public debate and document violations committed towards them.
Table of contents
Executive Summary 6
Chapter One: The Methodological Framework of the Study 11
Importance of the Study 12
Objectives of the Study 12
Problem Statement of the Study 12
Questions of the Study 12
Study Methodology 13
Study Tools 13
Study Challenges 18
Study Terminology 18
Study Limitations 18
Chapter Two: Analytical Reading for Results of Study Tools 39
Part One: Conclusions Related to Female Academics 22
Part Two: Conclusions Related to the Academic Institutions 29
Part Three: Conclusions on the Vision of NGOs and HROs for Female Academics 32
Part Four: Forms of Gender-based Discrimination and Exclusion 34
Chapter Three: Analysis of Questionnaire Data and Interpretation of its Results 39
Functional Distribution of Female Academics inside Academic 40
Academic Tasks Universities Assign to Female Academics 42
Bylaws and Regulations Female Academics Adhere to in the Academic
Institutions in Gaza Strip 43
Level of Commitment of Academic Institutions in Gaza Strip to Provide Opportunities for Training and Out of Country Missions to Female Academics 44
General Polices towards Female Academics inside Academic Institutions in Gaza Strip46
Forms of Violence Female Academics Face inside Academic Institutions 47
Chapter Four: Strategic Suggestions to Reduce Discrimination against Female Academics 51
First: Suggestions Related to the Procedures Required from PNA 52
Second: Suggestions for Academic Institution on Methods and Mechanisms of Dealing with Female Academics 55
Third: Suggestions Related to the Required Role from Civil Society Organizations 56
Fourth: Suggestions Related to the Required Tasks from Female Academics 57
Study Sources and References 60