Human rights defender from Gaza advocates for women

“Women are being discriminated against because of deeply embedded cultural biases still prevalent in Palestinian society, which are then reinforced by the government, as well as the community,” according to Zeinab-Al-Ghonaimy, a human rights defender and lawyer from Gaza.

Human rights defender from Gaza advocates for women’s rights © OHCHRMs. Al-Ghonaimy says that she was motivated to become a human rights defender by growing up female in Palestinian society, since she often witnessed women suffering discrimination. In 2006 she was an independent candidate for the Palestinian Legislative Council. Following this she committed herself to representing women in the courts. Now, as the director of the Center for Women’s Legal Research and Counseling, Al-Ghonaimy defends women’s rights in the Gaza Strip.

She considers her most important success as a human rights defender to be curtailing forced dress codes for women lawyers in the courtroom. Yet she has also helped widows maintain custody of children and contributed to the creation of a shelter for victims of domestic violence.

“People are discriminated against for so many reasons,” Ms. Al-Ghonaimy affirms, “being a female, having a disability or having different political views. I encourage men and women to become part of a network of human right defenders, to raise awareness and fight against all forms of discrimination. The more people involved the better. A single hand cannot clap.”

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has had an office in the occupied Palestinian territory since 1996.  In Palestine, OHCHR places emphasis on working in partnership with civil society to protect human rights. 

The theme for this year’s Human Rights Day on 10 December 2010 is Human Rights defenders who act to end discrimination.

30 November 2010