Ramallah: The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) announced on Thursday that six out of every 10 Palestinian females aged 15 years and above were married while three women out of 10 has never married. In addition, 5.8 per cent were widowed, 1.5 per cent divorced, 2.2 per cent engaged for the first time and 0.2 per cent separated.

PCBS, which released the women’s statistics to mark International Women’s Day 2013 on March 8, said that literacy among the female Palestinian was three and a half times higher than their male counterparts.

The bureau said that illiteracy among Palestinian males was 1.8 per cent compared to 6.4 per cent among Palestinian females in 2012. It stressed that the illiteracy rate for females was 15.3 per cent in 2001. The percentage of women with an Associated Diploma and above was 16.4 per cent in 2012.

PCBS said that despite the rise in female employment in the labour force over the past ten years, the female participation rate remained low at 17.4 per cent of the labour force in 2012 compared to 10.3 per cent in 2001. The male labour force participation rate was still around four times higher than that of females. The bureau highlighted a gap in the average daily wages of men and women in that the average daily wage for women in 2012 was 86.8 per cent of that of men.

PCBS said that female participation in the labour force was considered important for sustainable development, yet the female unemployment rate increased to 32.9 per cent in 2012 compared to 13.8 per cent in 2001. The unemployment rate was highest among women with 13 years of schooling at 44.6 per cent in 2012.

PCBS said that in 2009-2010, 7.9 per cent of plant agricultural holdings were held by women compared to 92.1 per cent held by males. In addition, 7.6 per cent of animal agricultural holdings were held by women against 92.4 per cent by males.

Family heads

The proportion of poor families headed by a female is higher in the Gaza Strip at 29.7 per cent compared to 22.5 per cent in the West Bank.

PCBS said that a total of 39.4 per cent of governmental female workers in the West Bank were subjected to or witnessed an act of corruption during 2008-2009 compared to 54.1 per cent of males over the same period.

Commenting on violence against women, the PCBS said that a total of 13 women were killed in Palestine in 2012 for various reasons.

The bureau underlined the low profile female participation in the pubic life, saying that out of local council members, 20.7 per cent were females compared to 79.3 per cent male in the West Bank. In 2012, the highest participation rate for women in local councils was in Ramallah and Al Beirah governorate with 18.9 per cent while the lowest was in Jericho and the Jordan Valley governorate with 2.3 per cent. Also, 4.3 per cent of ambassadors were females compared to 95.7 male in the West Bank. In the public sector, 40.6 per cent of employees were females in 2012 compared to 59.4 per cent male.

The estimated population of Palestine at the end of 2012 was 4.35 million of whom 2.21 million were males and 2.14 million females. Males comprise 50.8 per cent of the total population compared to 49.2 per cent females.