You are here

WEST BANK, Palestine – After receiving psychosocial and well-being services at the UNFPA-supported Women and Girls Safe Space for gender-based violence survivors in Nablus, women may leave with vocational training experience to help them find jobs or knowledge of their rights from legal counseling. Some leave with another type of lifeline: cash voucher assistance (CVA) to help ease financial burdens exacerbated by COVID-19, which also increased  the risk of gender-based violence already heightened by the humanitarian and political situation. 

Four women recently received the equivalent of $210 each. One of them said “it felt like winning $2,100!” In a place where the average monthly income is $515 per month, she was able to buy groceries for two months. “I prepared pizza and baked a cake for my son,” she wrote to psychosocial counselor Suad Shteiwi. “You should have seen the look on his face.” 

A new part of the GBV response 

Launched in 2020 to respond to the urgent needs of the poor and vulnerable during lockdown, the cash voucher assistance joined the psychosocial support, awareness-raising and case management services for gender-based violence survivors and women at risk as part of the support available at the Women and Girls Safe Spaces. 

“UNFPA - with funding from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), Canada, Denmark, Spain and the Humanitarian Trust Fund - has been able to reach tens of thousands of women with cash voucher assistance that helped alleviate women’s suffering,” said Sana Asi, UNFPA Gender Programme Officer.  “Imagine the feeling when you hear an unhappy woman saying “my prayers have been heard” referring to the CVA assistance that she received completely unexpectedly.” added Ms. Asi.

Working with partners in East Jerusalem, Gaza Strip and the West Bank, UNFPA has distributed about $1 million to not only women experiencing or at risk of gender-based violence but also to women with disabilities, women living in poverty and to disadvantaged women in humanitarian situations. Many of them have children and husbands with unstable incomes. 

The Cash Voucher Assistance programme has helped vulnerable women purchase much-needed groceries, hygiene supplies and children's essentials. The financial boost is part of the safe space services, including psychosocial support, legal counseling and vocational training. © UNFPA Palestine

Modest aid, sizeable results   

One recipient wrote of her happiness at seeing her children run through the aisles of the mini-market picking vegetables and other foods. Another wrote, “My son’s birthday was last month, and I was unable to buy him a gift. He is becoming a teenager and taller. Being able to buy him new clothes made his birthday gift very special.”

For women already under stress that drove them to resort to the safe spaces, relieving financial strain is integral to support. “When we provide sexual and reproductrive health and gender-based violence services, we reckon that reaching zero gender-based violence is possible if we keep women’s substantial needs at the centre of our response,” explained Ms. Asi. “For a family who can barely buy food, CVA makes a huge difference. Small amounts can make an enormous impact.”