From Gaza, with Love

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Happy International woman"s Day

Happy International Women's Day from Gaza

March 08, 2012

Dr. Mona El-Farra

From Gaza I send my warmest greetings to all of my friends and comrades, both here and abroad. On this occasion a message of love and yes, a call for steadfastness is in order. I send this message while Gaza is drowning in darkness, with no petrol, no internet, and most importantly none of the many basic medications, let alone ongoing medications needed for cancer patients and the treatment of several chronic illnesses. Hospitals and medical facilities are struggling hard to continue to provide meaningful services in such circumstances, and the burden is heavy.

As a woman living under the occupation, I can clearly see the impact these conditions have on the Palestinian population in general and women in particular. Despite the fact that many women provide for their families with very little resources, suffer from high unemployment and a general lack of security and safety, struggle against the daily unending Israeli siege and occupation, they still try in a multitude of ways support their families. Being a woman here can be like being a patient without a doctor. The best case scenario is the patient is strong, full of hope for a better future, and blind enough to the barriers to support their family that they continue to fight. These patients play dual roles, as we continue to contribute in the public sector, in different fields such as health, education and agriculture.

Women represent 51% of the Palestinian population, 12% of Palestinian working forces , 40% of university students, and 7% of families are headed by women. Women in Palestine know the meaning of solidarity more so than men, as we comprise a gender that globally does the heavy lifting for little of the credit and less of the rewards.

It is March in Palestine, and in March we celebrate many holidays: the day of Palestinian dignity, the land day, Mothers' Day and International Women's Day . On this day, I ask myself as well as you, "What sort of women do we need in Palestine?" I will begin to posit an answer: A woman that takes active part in all of our life aspects whether they be social, political or cultural. Women that go out from their homes to work in the fields of education and politics. Politically, women have proven, time after time, to be next to men in the resistance to the occupation, and may be ahead of men in many ways. Women that never give up to the different social strains and obstacles, women that do not surrender to the stereotypes that makes her either a sex object or a piece of property, to be hidden away and used as a backdrop.

I invite you to add your own answer and amplify it from the rooftops.

Palestinian women must be in the front of our resistance, the first line of reason and dignity. To achieve this it is important to spread awareness locally as well, so that we may make the necessary social change and allow the space for the proper empowerment for the many women who will lead us in the future here at home.

Charles Malik, the Lebanese philosopher stated once, " The fastest way to change society is to mobilize the women of the world." This is what we are doing. This is part of the work of the Middle East Children's Alliance, of our resistance to Israeli apartheid, of our constant struggle against the sexism that rules the order of the day. It is in this spirit that I offer my respect and appreciation to all the women of the world, those who paid and still paying a price toward freedom and independence that we have waited too long for.

Let us stand together. Let us strengthen our links of solidarity. Let us birth a world that bears the weight of our dreams of freedom.

From Gaza, with love I wish you a happy International Women's Day.

Mona ElFarra





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