The Mehwar Centre for the Protection and Empowerment of Women and Familiesu201d project was initiated in 2004 with the goal to provide support and safety to victims and survivors of violence through the first national specialized anti-violence centre in Palestine and it has been executed and technically supported by UN Women since 2008,withfunding by the Government of Italy until2012 and the Government of Iceland since 2013.
The Center has been established as a pilot in close cooperation with the Palestinian Government, local and international NGOs and the civil society in compliance with human-right based standards and policies for protection of women and children victims and survivors of violence. The project addresses the phenomenon of violence against women holistically by focusing on prevention of violence through community sensitization, as well as protection and social re-integration of victims and survivors of violence. It also advocates for the adoption of national laws, policies and mechanisms ensuring women`s victims the right to live in safety and dignity, while ending impunity for perpetrators of violence.
Since 2011 and benefitting from UN Women support in the institutionalization of Mehwar experience, the Mehwar Centre has been recognized by the Palestinian Ministry of Social Affairs, and the Palestinian Authority more broadly, as a national model for the development of standards of sheltering services for women across Palestine, besides serving as a base for the specialization of other sectors - including judicial and security sectors and legislative bodies - in addressing violence against women. Thanks to UN Women core funds, the Mehwar Centre has also established the first victim-based comprehensive data collection system on violence against women.
The Mehwar Centre is run by 22 highly trained professionals, it operates under the overall supervision of the Ministry of Social Affairs and provides a protected shelter for up to 35 women and their children together with social and legal counseling psychosocial support, health care, and legal representation in courts. Additionally the Mehwar Centre provides social and legal support services to families in distress, outreach and community sensitization programmes, including a nursery and a gym for children and women of the community. Mehwar team was awarded with the Human Rights Defender Price (2010) by the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
Since its opening, 304 women and 69 children victims and survivors of violence and under life threat were protected and empowered while sheltered and 267 sheltered women were reintegrated into the society through multi-stakeholder supported plans. 230 sheltered women and 109 women from outreach cases received legal counseling and about 1,430 family members benefited from Mehwar`s social and legal counseling. About 135 sheltered women benefited from vocational training opportunities with 56 training courses (nursing, medical secretariat, sewing and fashion design, hair dressing, jewelry design and handicraft, computer skills, English) and 49 women sheltered in Mehwar were provided job opportunities; 19 sheltered women who studied and worked outside the Centre benefited from a peer group support.
Owing to Mehwar the followings have been achieved:
1. A mechanism for the protection and reintegration of women, girls, and children victims of violence and under life-threat;
2. The recognition and promotion of Palestinian women and children human rights within the community;
3. Human rights-based standards and policies applied to anti-violence centers across Palestine
4. Government engagement in the fight against VAWG, validating and supporting provision of specialized anti-violence services, and translation of CEDAW principles into national strategies, policies and mechanisms;
5. Engagement of families of VAWG victims as women`s protection actors and empowerment advocates
UN Women/Mehwar Centre publications (in Arabic and English): 1) Evaluation of Policies and Procedures (2011); Good Practice for Recruiting Anti-violence Centre Personnel (2012); 3) Women Agents of Change (Mehwar experience 2008-2012); Final Project Evaluation (2012).
Partners: the Ministry of Social Affairs of Palestine, UN Women, the Government of Italy, the Government of Iceland.
The Mehwar Center
Bethlehem, State of Palestine
Acting Director, Saeda Al-Atrash
UN Women Palestine
Al Nouman St., Beit Hanina, Jerusalem
Special Representative, Alia El-Yassir