Gender Gap Index

The World Economic Forum does not include the state of Palestine in the most recent Global Gender Gap Reports.


Family Code/ Personal Status Law

  • Personal Status Laws are based on religious laws inherited from Jordan (the 1976 Personal Status Law, applicable in the West Bank) and Egypt (the unmodified 1954 Family Law, applicable in Gaza). These laws are inspired by the Hanafi School of Islamic jurisprudence. In both cases, these laws contain discriminatory provisions in the areas of marriage, divorce, child custody and inheritance.(Art. 10/c).


  • Within the West Bank, the legal age for marriage is 15 for girls and 16 for boys; in Gaza, it is 17 for girls and 18 for boys. According to data from the UN, in 2007, 6% of girls aged 15 to 19 years old had been married. Overall, prevalence of early marriage appears to be declining.
  • With regards to parental authority, fathers are considered the legal guardians of children, and women are physical custodians.


  • Muslim men under Palestinian Shari’ah courts are able to repudiate their wives, i.e. divorce them unilaterally, whereas women are only able to initiate divorce under certain limited circumstances
  • In the event of divorce, women are granted physical custody of children; boys to the age of 10, and girls until 12. Custody is forfeited if the woman remarries.

Resources and Assets

  • Women have the legal right to access land and non-land assets, but female ownership is low because of social norms that limit women’s economic activity
  • Palestinian law does not recognize the concept of shared marital property. Husbands are seen as bearing responsibility for meeting the basic needs of the wife.
  • Women in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have legal access to financial services, including credit, and are free to dispose of their income independently. But as so few women own property or land, they lack the collateral needed to secure credit
  • Shari'ah law governs inheritance rights, where women may inherit but their share is generally smaller than that to which men are entitled


  • Discrimination in employment on the basis of gender is prohibited under the Palestinian Labour Law. Women are entitled to 10 weeks’ paid maternity leave.
  • There are no legal restrictions on women’s choice of careers, but women can face pressure from their families not to pursue certain careers.
  • Permits are required for Palestinians who wish to work in a non-contiguous territory, and families prefer to put men forward to apply for such permits, limiting women’s employment opportunities


  • In 2011, a draft of the Penal Code was submitted to the Palestinian Authority by the Palestinian civil society. The draft, still to be ratified, would provide women with more significant protection against gender violence and would bring Palestinian legislation in line with international standards.
  • At present, there are no laws to protect women from domestic violence
  • No legislation protects women from sexual harassment either in general or in the work place

Political Participation

Women's Political Participation Year Total Source
Number of women in parliament (single/lower house) 2014 1/84 (lower house)
15/83 (upper house
IPU database
% of women in parliament 2014 1.19% (lower house)
18.07% (upper house)
Legislated quotas for women for single/ lower house (yes/no) 2014 NO The Quota Project database
Number of women in ministerial positions 2013 5/21 IPU database
% of women in ministerial positions 2013 23.8%


  • Palestinian women and men have equal voting rights and the same right to stand for election.


  • There are quotas at both national and sub-national levels. Article 4 of the 2005 electoral law required each party list to include at least one woman among the first three names, at least one woman among the next four names, and at least one woman in every five names thereafter. In addition, all major political parties have minimum quotas for women in their governing bodies.


  • Since the last elections in 2006, the unicameral Palestinian Legislative Council has 17/132 (13%) female representatives)
  • The Palestinian Legislative Council consists of 132 seats, 50% of which are elected through a proportional representation system, with the other 50% elected through contests between individual candidates in multi-member districts. The 2005 Election Law (Law No. 9) and the 2007 Decree on the Election Law state that political parties must have at least 1 woman among the first 3 candidates on the list, at least 1 woman among the next 4, and 1 woman among every 5 for the rest of the list. The law applies to the proportional representation component of the election, and the lists are closed. This guarantees about 20% women among the candidates.
  • The quota for the subnational level according to Article 17 of the 2005 Local Elections Law mimics the national level.
  • However, overall there are few women in senior decision-making positions in the Palestinian Authority.
  • In 2011, the first woman secretary general of a political party was elected.
  • As of 2013, 5 of 21 cabinet members of the Palestinian Authority are women.
  • In Gaza, women are members of Hamas; however, they have little influence over decision-making. There are no women on Hamas’s top body, the political bureau.


  • According to the PCBS, in 2010 30% of journalists in the Palestinian Authority were female and 10% of editors. While the proportion of female journalists was similar for the West Bank and Gaza (28.6% and 33.4% respectively), women comprised 0% of editors in Gaza, compared to 12% in the West Bank.
  • In 2013, women reportedly comprised 20% of the Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate (PJS) in the West Bank, a professional union linked to the International Federation of Journalists. In 2013, Birzeit University's Media Development Centre opened a gender unit in partnership with the PJS.
  • In 2010, a female radio station, “Radio Nisaa," was established in the West Bank with the aim of empowering Palestinian women. The station features success stories of Palestinian women, while also raising awareness about violence against women among other issues of concern.

CEDAW and reservations[6]

  • The Palestinian Authority unilaterally ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women on March 8, 2010, without reservation

Economic Empowerment[7]

Women's Economic Participation




Labour Force Participation

Ratio of female to male labour force participation rate (%)



World Bank Gender Statistics Data Bank

Labour force participation, female (% of total labour force)



Labour force participation, female (% of female population 15-64)



Labour force participation, male (% of male population 15-64)



Youth Employment

Ratio of female to male youth unemployment rate (% aged 15-24)



World Bank Gender Statistics Data Bank


Unemployment, female (% of female labour force)



World Bank Gender Statistics Data Bank

Unemployment, male (% of male labour force)



Unemployment, total (% of total labour force)




Firms with female participation in ownership (% of firms)



World Bank Gender Statistics Data Bank

Boards and Upper Management

Percentage of firms with a female top manager (%)



World Bank Gender Statistics Data Bank

Sectors of Work

Agriculture (% of female employment)



World Bank Gender Statistics Data Bank

Agriculture (% of male employment)



Industry (% of female employment)



Industry (% of male employment)



Services (% of female employment)



Services (% of male employment)



Vulnerable employment (% of female employment)



Vulnerable employment (% of male employment)



Employers, female (% of employment)



Employers, male (% of employment)




  • The gap in labour force participation between women and men in the Palestinian Authority is large, exhibiting one of the lowest workforce participation rates of women in the world, particularly in Gaza.
  • In the last quarter of 2012, the labour force participation rate was 69% for males compared with 18% for females.
  • However, there have been more women entering the workforce since 2004 when the participation rate for women was 12.8%: 9.2% in Gaza and 14.7% in West Bank.[8]

Sectors of Work

  • Women lawyers reportedly face discrimination, including significant disadvantages in entering state institutions and private legal practices.
  • As of 2010, only 13% of registered legal professionals in the West Bank were women, and only 12% of judges.[9]

[1] All information on legislation has been sourced from the OECD Social Institutions and Gender Index, 2014: Unless stated otherwise.
[7] All information on economic empowerment has been sourced from the World Bank Gender Statistics Data Bank: Unless stated otherwise.
[9] Ibid.