The Right to Adequate Housing – Palestinian-Single Mothers in Israel

Thursday, 14 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 33 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Tal MELER, Zefat Academic College, Israel
In the last three decades, the Palestinian society in Israel has been undergoing changes in different spheres. Trends of change and preservation have been evolving simultaneously. Part of the changes in the familial sphere is a rise in the percentage of single-parent families as a result of divorce or widowhood.

In this paper I will focus on the issue of housing in relation to Palestinian-Israeli single-mothers, and I will conduct a gender analysis of their available housing options and their realization of the right to adequate housing. A critical analysis from the perspective of Gender-Mainstreaming on the right to adequate housing, as manifested in the case of these women, creates a prism for examining additional spheres of life that relate to them and their children.

The paper is based on qualitative research I conducted among Palestinian-Israeli single-mothers, divorced/separated and widows, which dealt with their situation and their experiences, and examined their status in their families and communities. The data was collected through in-depth semi-structured interviews, and was analyzed out of a commitment to the principles of feminist research. The issue of housing turned out to be a central theme in many interviews.

Since the policy used in Israel over the years has led to discrimination against minority groups. In this paper I will present a link to international human-rights discourse that might be used as an effective tool of political action against such discrimination.

Findings show a lack of governmental solutions, the women are forced into oppressive familial arrangements while struggling to obtain autonomous space for themselves and their children. Their transparency and the deep hardship they face in all matters pertaining to housing, may – in extreme cases – be manifested in a threat to their lives.