Women's Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling (WCLAC)
Women involved in feminist movements around the world have been assigned a marginalized status in their struggles for national liberation. In an effort to prevent this from happening in Palestine, a group of Palestinian women took the initiative to establish the Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counseling (WCLAC).
WCLAC was established in Jerusalem in 1991 as a Palestinian independent non-governmental non-profit organization with the aim of contributing to the building of a democratic Palestinian society based on the principles of gender equality and social justice. In order to achieve this aim, WCLAC develops programs and projects with a clear Palestinian women’s agenda based on international human rights standards. WCLAC’s five units work together to implement and follow-up those programs and projects.
By forging a feminist vision aimed at achieving equality and social justice, WCLAC has been able to make a number of important achievements in the area of human rights and in particular, the rights of Palestinian women. In 1998, WCLAC was awarded the French annual prize for human rights for its initiative to influence Palestinian decision makers and legislature to adopt laws, legislation and policies to ensure equality and the rights of Palestinian women. WCLAC General Director, Maha Abu-Dayyeh Shamas, was awarded the ‘Ms. Magazine Woman of the Year Award’ in 2002. In 2005, the Welfare Association, a Palestinian development foundation, awarded WCLAC the ‘2005 NGO Excellence in Achievement Award’ and a $50,000 prize. Also in 2005, WCLAC was granted special consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
WCLAC operates its programs out of four offices: the main office in Jerusalem, as well as offices in Ramallah, Hebron, and the Old City of Jerusalem.