Qualitative Study-Uncovering Social Norms about the Value of Domestic Care Works and Women's Participation in Stereotypical Work and the Labor Market

Executive Summary

To collect information, this study relied on literature review, holding 27 workshops in which 399 students (309 females and 90 males) have participated in addition to 31 academicians (21 females and 10 males) from 11 universities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in addition to holding 12 focus groups sessions attended by 132 participants (85 women and 47 men) from the community leaders from both the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In the first place, it is clear from the research that the traditional societal division of roles of both sexes is based on a biological basis, although the differences in mentality between the sexes are minimal, and the similarities in ideas between them are more. Nevertheless, these differences have been amplified and expanded by the society and patterns and images about the roles and behaviors of both sexes were built on them, which have led to inequality and discrimination between the sexes in the household and in the labor market. Men, by virtue of their biological makeup, are superior to women, and this is reinforced by the role assigned to them in the family. From the structural aspect, the woman’s body is also viewed as weak compared to the man’s. On this basis, occupations in the labor market have been separated on the basis of gender. Accordingly, women cannot do hard work as men, and their feminine nature is linked to the emotional side, which means that women are linked to the task of raising children.

Participants considered domestic care works as real, and that these jobs are entrusted to women while men often do not perform unpaid work, given that they are the breadwinners of families. In return for the man’s support to the woman, the woman does not receive a direct wage for domestic and care work. This home care work is considered one of the main reasons for women’s low participation in the labor market and their access to paid employment opportunities. Also, these works are not included within the definition of labor or the Labor Law or within the national accounts given that it is not a real job as other jobs in the labor market, despite its importance to the family in particular, and society and the economic structure in general.

The results also indicated that husbands often do not share their wives in the domestic and care works and in case they do, it is considered an exception rather than the rule. In the labor market, women are exploited by employers on basis that women are not the main family breadwinner. Therefore, they are given less wage than men and not only this but they are also paid less than the minimum wages. Women are often forced to work with wages less than men’s wages. Some participants (males and females) pointed out that in some cases women’s femininity is exploited by employers to attract more customers and increase marketing.

Many factors play in reproducing division of roles between men and women in the society, most important of which are: the unenlightened religious discourse (patriarchal), socialization/social upbringing that distinguishes between the sexes in roles and rights, and the patriarchal societal culture. Moreover, many factors worked on empowering women to involve in non-stereotypical occupations, including the war on Gaza, which contributed to women’s involvement in the press profession, the economic situation also pushed women to work as waitresses in restaurants, Corona epidemic also encouraged women to work in business from their homes using the social media in marketing their products and etc.

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