Palestinian Women – Shared Struggle, Diverse Experiences
How does one write about women and their concerns without reducing them to so-called “women’s issues”? Are the struggles of Palestinian women under occupation or in refugee camps all that different from Palestinian men? Is a mother’s concern for her children a “women’s cause” distinguished in its sentiment and action from paternal concern? Is gender all that important, after all?
The Journal of Palestine Studies has long addressed these and similar questions regarding the lived experience of Palestinian women in historic Palestine and the diaspora. The Journal’s long history of papers, interviews, and essays have served to highlight the stories and experiences Palestinian women have to share. While they are part of a grander Palestinian story, these experiences highlight a reality that is often distinctive to women.
For instance, in a 1994 interview conducted by Stephanie Latte Abdallah on behalf of the Journal, a Palestinian refugee woman in the Wahdat camp in Amman relates, “It is true that there is a lack of education among refugees in general because of our economic situation, but the men get out more and so are more exposed to political questions and what's happening in the world. The women often stay at home, meet fewer people, and therefore have a hard time understanding the political, economic, and social questions on their own.” Additionally, Palestinian women face the challenge of “Gender Politics and Nationalism” as recounted by Sherna Berger Gluck, “At the height of the [first] intifada, women activists regularly echoed the refrain: 'We will not be another Algeria' - vowing they would not allow their interests to be subverted to political processes, as occurred in Algeria following independence.”
In its reports on Palestinian women, the Journal has sought to shine a light on the myriad experiences of Palestinians – of gender, class, religion, and geography – in order to convey the diversity of the Palestinian past and present.
As part of our Special Focus on Palestinian Women – Shared Struggle, Diverse Experiences in conjunction with the forthcoming International Women’s Day (March 8), the Institute for Palestine Studies has made available a series of articles from our archives.* This archival collection includes articles on the early Palestinian women’s movement in the 1920s and 1930s, the role of Palestinian camp women as “Tellers of History,” the experiences of Palestinian female laborers in Gaza under direct Israeli occupation, and many, many more, including the aforementioned two by Abdallah and Gluck. These articles, which include several interviews, relate extraordinary stories often told in the voices of Palestinian women. In presenting them, we hope to inform our readers about the exceptional stories that make up the whole of Palestine.
*Articles that were only made available as part of our monthly Special Focus have since been removed and may be purchased at our co-publisher's website, the University of California Press. Removed articles will automatically take you to the respective article at UCP's website.
Author: Soraya Antonius
Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 8, No. 3 (Spring, 1979), pp. 26-45
Author: Rosemary Sayigh
Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 10, No. 4 (Summer, 1981), pp. 3-26
Author: Rosemary Sayigh
Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 14, No. 3 (Spring, 1985), pp. 18-31
Author: Susan Rockwell
Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 14, No. 2, Special Issue: The Palestinians in Israel and the Occupied Territories (Winter, 1985), pp. 114-36
Author: Joost R. Hiltermann
Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 20, No. 3 (Spring, 1991), pp. 48-57
Author: Sherna Berger Gluck
Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 24, No. 3 (Spring, 1995), pp. 5-15
Author: Stephanie Latte Abdallah
Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 24, No. 4 (Summer, 1995), pp. 62-72
Author: Rosemary Sayigh
Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 27, No. 2 (Winter, 1998), pp. 42-58
Author: Nahla Abdo
Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 28, No. 2 (Winter, 1999), pp. 38-51
Author: Ellen L. Fleischmann
Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 29, No. 3 (Spring, 2000), pp. 16-32
Author: Stéphanie Latte Abdallah
Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 38, No. 4 (Summer 2009), pp. 47-62
Author: Diana Allan
Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 38, No. 4 (Summer 2009), pp. 75-90
Author: Falestin Naïli
Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 38, No. 4 (Summer 2009), pp. 63-74
Arabic Translation: International Women's Day 8 March 1981. Poster was published by the General Union of Palestinian Women. Source: The Palestine Poster Project Archives.