Voluntary Refugee Registration and Gender Development in the West Bank: the Polarization of Modern and Traditional Values

Degree Name

MA in Conflict Transformation

First Advisor

Tatsushi Arai

Second Advisor

Kanthie Athukorala


In this independent practitioner inquiry, I chose to focus my research on the perceived causes of voluntary refugee registration and gender in the West Bank by the United Nations Relief and Works agency staff along with their beneficiaries and how modern feminism creates issues for researchers in the gender development field. As a voluntary process, Palestine refugees must take the initiative to register themselves and their family members. A preliminary quantitative analysis found that female eligible registrants were, on average, registered less often and later than male eligible registrants. As a result, a qualitative analysis was conducted with seven UNRWA staff and forty-five beneficiaries in urban, rural, camp and Bedouin communities in the Jerusalem area. Theoretically, this research paper uses a post-feminist narrative to discuss the complications and limitations of current gender development practices in the West Bank. Further, this report attempts to deconstruct the stigmatization of Middle Eastern culture by a predominantly western feminist gender equality expectation. Subsequently, the qualitative research concluded that gender disparities in the quantitative analysis were not caused by favoritism among genders in the preferences of Palestine refugee registration, but is most likely caused by traditional patriarchal practices in inheritance law. Although the qualitative data did not find favoritism for male children over female children, it did show that the families, who empowered women to register, registered their children more frequently and earlier than those who left the responsibility to male heads of households. Recommendations were made to enhance voluntary refugee registration and strengthen advocacy programs, ensuring access to at-risk women and children. Keywords: Refugees, Palestine, Israel/Palestine, Registration, Demographics, Gender

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