Remarks by Jill Derderian, Counselor for Economic and Social Affairs, on the Situation of and Assistance to Palestinian Women, at the 58th Session of the Commission of the Status of Women, March 21, 2014.

Jill Derderian
U.S. Counselor for Economic and Social Affairs 
New York, NY
March 21, 2014


We are disappointed once again this year with this resolution and take this opportunity to explain our vote against it.

The United States, along with many of our international partners, remains committed to supporting the Palestinian people, including Palestinian women, in practical and effective ways. Our deep interest in improving humanitarian conditions is reflected in our ongoing support of vital programs that continue to break ground in integrating gender into the public reform and development process, and in creating environments that enable Palestinian women to advance and lead.

The United States directly funds several programs that address major issues facing Palestinian women including inequality, gender-based violence, the lack of legal rights, and the need for political and economic empowerment.

We note that the United States continues to be the largest bilateral donor to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, which provides education, healthcare, and social and relief services as well as emergency assistance to five million Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank, and Gaza. The U.S. government contributed more than $294 million to UNRWA in FY2013, our largest ever single-year contribution to the agency, and more than $129 million thus far in FY2014. U.S. funding to UNRWA includes support for programs designed to address the needs of Palestinian refugee women specifically, including efforts to reduce gender-based violence. The United States government also contributes significantly to other UN programs that assist Palestinian women and the entire Palestinian population.

We remain concerned about the humanitarian situation in Gaza, including reports that Hamas authorities have undertaken efforts to limit women's freedom of movement and ability to appear in public, and that enforcement against women in Gaza of so-called “ethical” crimes is on an upward trend. We reiterate our support for additional efforts to ensure the safety and well-being of Gazans and will continue to work with the Palestinian Authority, Israel, and international partners to improve the lives of Gazan women.

In light of this, we remain troubled at this body's insistence on including political elements and one-sided condemnations that detract from the real challenges at hand. We implore this Commission to refocus its energy toward our shared goals, as this resolution is unhelpful to all involved.

Last year, President Obama set in motion a new effort to achieve the goal of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The United States has worked diligently since then to facilitate productive negotiations. It is our hope that this will lead to a secure state of Israel and to an independent, prosperous Palestine. It is only through direct negotiations that the parties can address and resolve their differences. We will continue to encourage and support both sides to take every advantage of this new opportunity for peace.

Thank you.


PRN: 2014/057