Palestine – championing women, but still falling short on their rights
Alongside Cuba, China, Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova, Palestine is the sole Arab nation to officially celebrate International Women’s Day – but still fails to allow mothers to open bank accounts for their children
In Palestine, there is a contradiction between what is said and what is being done. Unfortunately, it is still falling short on allowing women the right to exercise their full human rights – especially fiscally. Despite the fact that Palestine has signed the UN’s Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), they fail to allow mothers to open bank accounts on behalf of their children.
In those cases where an account can be opened, restrictions remain: first, the mother must not oppose the father’s rights of guardianship, and second, the account becomes a subsidiary of the mother’s account and is not independent. In this case, if the mother dies, money from the child’s account would be distributed between all her heirs, and not simply transferred to that specific child.
These regulations are issued by the Palestinian Monetary Authority (PMA), which serves as the central bank. Director of public relations and market discipline for the PMA, Mr Ali Faroun, stated in Al Hadath newspaper that, “as instructed by the Monetary Authority, the guardian has the right to open an account for the minor (child) and thus the guardian manages that account until the minor comes of age”. In short, this means that banks can allow for a mother to open an account for their minor children, but this requires no objection from the father.
Worth mentioning that very few banks were able to overcome this issue amongst the Bank of Palestine.
Turkey and Israel are two countries in the Middle East where women have equal status under law; however, in neighbouring country Lebanon things are slightly better than in some other Arab countries. Member of Parliament Robert Ghanem, Head of the Administration and Justice Committee, announced that Lebanese banks had recently overturned this outdated law and are now able to open accounts for mothers during the National Commission for Lebanese Women celebration for Women’s Day, 6 March 2015.