Palestinian women organize for change
HDIP, Health Development and Information Policy Institute, works with empowerment of Palestinian women. Their goal is to increase women’s knowledge of democracy, human rights, leadership, advocacy, conflict resolution and gender rights. With this knowledge women can take a greater part in the decision making process and the results so far are very good. Out of 78 women who participated in the project training sessions 2012, 12 ran in the municipal elections in October 2012 and one was elected.
On May 18th 100 women gathered at the Active Women Community Changers-conference in Ramallah. The conference was organized by HDIP as a part of the project activities. The national conference was an opportunity for women from Hebron, Jenin and Tulkarem to discuss what has been achieved since the project started 2012 and what they can do better.
During the conference the participants talked about their new experience in ways to be organized especially networking and knowledge transmission as well as their roles as local leaders and trainers. The participants said that they are aware that they contribute to changes and hope that they inspire the other women to be local communities’ changers.
One of new local community changers who attended the conference was Faiza Abu Shamsieh. She lives in the Old City of Hebron. She and her family – six children and a physically disabled husband- live under constant threat from 600 radical Israeli settlers and/or Israeli soldiers. According to B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories – settlers in the city have routinely abused the city’s Palestinian residents, sometimes using extreme violence like beatings or breaking in to houses. Faiza´s family is one of the last Palestinian families in the building they live in. An Israeli soldier who has taken over one of the Palestinian flats in the house threatens to throw out Faiza´s family every day.
She says that lack of knowledge and a low self-confidence has made her feel helpless and weak most of her life. She was afraid to leave the house or to face her unpleasant neighbor. She felt that she could not stand up for her children or teach them how to stand up for themselves.
After the training sessions had been completed Faiza Abu Shamsieh expressed a new-found confidence in dealing with daily life and speaking in front of other people and arguing for her rights. Now she is a local leader and advocates for women organizing and empowering in the Old City in Hebron.
Text and Photo: Zarifeh Malki and Svjetlana Duric, Program Coordinators, the Olof Palme International Center