Palestinian Women Reproductive Health Rights: Knowledge, Opportunities, Challenges and the Way Forward. A Qualitative Study in Bethlehem Area in the West Bank.
Background: Reproductive health rights were declared as fundamental human rights since the ICPD 1994 and the Beijing 1995 conferences. The acknowledgement of the importance of these rights was a momentous point for reproductive health, particularly for women’s health and rights. In the Palestinian context, reproductive health rights are severely affected by the combination of constraints of the political system and the cultural context. Reproductive health rights remain one of the least prioritized matters making them extremely unmentionable. Given the several interrelated issues regarding reproductive health rights of Palestinian women, this dissertation employed the Theory of Intersectionality to guide the various discussions and debates. This theory underpinned the multiple political-demographic and cultural factors/conditions that influence Palestinian women RHR, as well as women’s knowledge, awareness, opportunities and challenges regarding such rights. Methods: A qualitative research was conducted using semi-structured interviews. A purposive sample of ten Palestinian women living in Bethlehem Area in the West Bank was selected. These interviews formed the basis of the analysis. Findings: Findings of this study were considered under five emergent themes: knowledge, information and education; services and resources; Palestinian context and norms; conflict and occupation; violence against women. These intersecting themes shaped women’s knowledge and perceptions of RHR. They highlighted the underpinning factors that influence the existing opportunities and challenges for Palestinian women to access to RHR, as well as health seeking behaviors and overall wellbeing. Conclusion: In insuring universal access to RHR in the Palestinian context, it is recommended that governments should demonstrate commitment to prioritizing RHR initiatives. RHR should be incorporated throughout activities and awareness raising programs. In addition, further researches regarding RHR should be conducted in other areas of Palestine.