From Gaza, with Love

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

women in my country -gender and development

Like the entire Palestinian nation, Palestinian women have to face the Israeli occupation and its wide range of effects on our daily life. However, women are also subjected to the constraints of a strong traditional society – a society which puts a tremendous amount of pressure on women.

Any process of development in a developing country like Palestine cannot be effective if it excludes half the population (ie. women). When social, political and economic factors have contributed to the decline of the development process and when resources are scarce, the most vital resources are well invested human resources.

I believe that women in my country need to be empowered in various ways. What is most important is that women are aware of their social, legal, economic, health and political rights and have the tools to fully implement those rights. While education for women about these rights is important, knowledge and enlightening alone is not enough. Practical projects and programmes that help to alleviate poverty for women and strengthen their economic independence are essential. Having this economic independence means they can play a much greater and important role, both inside the family and in the community as a whole.

Women and gender equality

It is recognised that gender equality is a strategic long term goal, where both women and men can enjoy equal rights. To achieve this goal it is important to help and support the more vulnerable party and women are usually this party. The message that we all live under occupation in my country, both men and women, that all human rights are violated and that it’s a battle for everyone must be promoted.

Due to the unique situation in Palestine, new pressures are being faced by women. Not only has the whole community suffered because of the occupation, but the number of
families headed by women have increased. Even when the woman’s partner is present, women play a greater role inside the family. Women are not only trying to help their families through the daily hazards of living under occupation and the associated social, psychological, and health problems but they themselves are also victims of
these problems. It is no surprise, therefore, to find that post-traumatic stress syndrome amongst women and children is higher than among men.

Programmes aimed at increasing womens empowerment have been adopted in the union
of health work committees and Palestinian Red Crescent Society in Gaza in special womens welfare centers. This drive to empower women has always been a part of the mission statements of both organisations. It is an essential goal in the fight for womens development and gender equality. In these programmes awareness and enlightenment are the main focus alongside support and practical elements including social and
psychological support, legal aid support, health services and job opportunities. All of these elements are underpinned by gender equality.

I do believe that progress is being made. Despite both the occupation and the traditional social constraints, every day through my work in different womens programmes I can clearly see the change. It is not fast but it is there. For example, the average age at which girls are marrying has slightly increased, more girls seem to be embarking on getting a university education, marriages between relatives are not as high as they used
to be and so on. One of the golden rules for us as community activists and workers is to ensure that the right of education for girls is guaranteed. Despite the economic hardship and humanitarian crises, these slight changes are a positive outcome and reflection of the cumulative effect of the ongoing awareness-raising programmes of different NGO’S in Palestine.

I am convinced women can play a very positive role in change in my country given the right atmosphere and circumstances. Palestinian women can contribute a lot and in order for them to have the opportunity to do so, the enlightenment and education of men is essential especially young men. At the same time we must continue working with women on an international basis in order to achieve the promotion of womens rights and empowerment. Solidarity is great weapon in achieving this goal. It is important to work as part of a global movement that is fighting injustice and exploitation instigated by capital, imperial and colonial world powers.

In the end gender equality is not an intangible concept but a demand for liberation and justice for both females and males.


  • mona

    i am a 30 year old israeli who works in advertising.
    and is a leftist.

    you have to understand that we(israelis) dont see pictures and whole uncensored footage.
    most of us dont have a clue of what is going on in gaza.

    if you could e-mail me pictures and write about daily events i will make sure they will be published!


    By Blogger koder, at 5/20/2007 9:53 PM  

  • Hello Koder,

    You could go to

    If you would like to find more, just make a search on Google.

    Salaam Aleikum


    By Blogger herman, at 6/22/2007 11:53 PM  

  • Hello Mona. I am a 19 year old college student in the United States, and I am taking a course this semester in genders in the Middle East. I first wanted to tell you that after reading your blog, I consider you to be an inspiration. You are so strong and brave, and I admire that despite all the terrible things you have encountered, you would never for one second wish them upon the people who do them to you. This post, in particular, appealed to me, because it applies to the course I am taking. In this post, you talk about the inequality between the genders, the additional pressures imposed on women during this stressful time, and what is required to improve women’s status. This is one of the only posts where women are addressed directly as being oppressed more than men. In my class, we read about and watched a film on the Battle of Algiers, and in this case, the women fought for their country’s independence from France and no feminist achievements were realized. It was more important for everyone to have their human rights back at the time. Is the feminist movement in Palestine also being put on hold while Gaza is occupied by Israeli forces? I only ask this because very few of your postings refer to women specifically, as there seems to be more pressing issues to address.

    I also wanted to let you know that the story you told in one of your first posts about the two hospital patients really moved me. Continue to believe in the goodness of people and remain strong.


    By Blogger cramekid, at 2/13/2009 6:04 AM  

  • I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


    By Blogger Alena, at 2/10/2010 10:00 AM  

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