Digital Technologies for Gender Equality in Palestine

  • Albu, Oana Brindusa (PI)

Project: Research

Project Details


The contemporary escalation of political and religious struggles in Palestine have grave implications for the lives of women and gender minorities. The project is situated at the intersection of digital technologies and critical gender studies and focuses on gender inequality in this region. This project faces this issue, and will
provide: a) a new research agenda concerning digital technologies, gender and empowerment in regions subject to political protracted conflicts where individuals face conflict-related gender based violence; and b) new project ideas for civil society partners (women human rights defenders, WHRDs), which entail developing digital security skills needed for advocacy, reporting and research based policy-making in order to promote gender equality for women and LGBT minorities.
Despite a significant body of literature in gender and technology studies, research investigating solutions for tackling gender inequality in regions subject to prolonged geo-political conflicts such as Palestine is scarce (Gurumurthy & Chami, 2014). WHRDs face pressures from state, non-state actors and local communities by entering male dominated spheres. Recent studies show that for WHRDs the use of internet technologies is imperative to their work across both online and offline domains (Al-Rawi, 2014). However, WHRDs are attacked both for their actions and gender identity since they are perceived to defy social norms and structures. Thus, more knowledge is needed about how WHRDs can safely access and use digital technologies for the short-term protection from existing dangers and the long-term change of gender-based power relations. Studies typically argue that digital technologies have positive implications for civic
engagement (Al-Rawi, 2014). Yet, these technologies can equally endanger WHRDs by exposing them to harassment, bullying and threats by allowing the unauthorized collection of existing and deleted data from various devices through malware (Aradau, Huysmans, Neal & Voelkner, 2015). So far, this topic has mostly been studied in form of desktop research, providing too little insight into the complex relation of WHRDs, digital technology use, and the social and political context. There is a need for more research that allows developing an in-depth understanding of how digital technologies impact WHRDs’ work in regions where there are significant barriers to gender equality. Hence, this project is important as it will create a research network and set the basis for future studies into the ways in which digital technologies affect WHRDs’ collective voice and their influence on reforming policy and social customs. Palestine was selected as a country partner because it is a region with significant gender inequality problems. Presently, there are no specific laws that protect women against domestic violence and harassment in online or offline interactions (30% of ever-married women in the West Bank and 51% in the Gaza Strip have been subjected to a form of violence, UN Women, 2016). Given that the Palestinian Legislative Council has been paralyzed since 2007, WHRDs have emerged as particularly central actors in promoting gender equality, yet face much intimidation and repression. The project aims to provide a
research and a knowledge base that supports WHRDs in acquiring digital security skills essential in
promoting gender equality. The project is relevant for the Danish priorities in Palestine in relation to strengthening human rights and reducing gender-based violence. The emerging research will have an impact on the civil society sector by professionalizing the work of civil society organizations (CSOs) and creating networks of support through trainings and follow-up activities.

Layman's description

Effective start/end date01/05/201830/11/2018