Palestinian Women – Shared Struggle, Diverse Experiences

A Palestinian participates in a Gaza City protest organized to oppose violence against women. (24 November, Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images)

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 has served to highlight the stories and experiences of Palestinian women. 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.

On this International Women’s Day, we make available 15 Journal articles* in our latest Special Focus | Palestinian Women – Shared Struggle, Diverse Experiences. This 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 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.

*Articles are only available for the duration of this month, March 2018.

Fighting on Two Fronts: Conversations with Palestinian Women
Soraya Antonius
Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 8, No. 3 (Spring, 1979), pp. 26-45

Encounters with Palestinian Women under Occupation
Rosemary Sayigh
Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 10, No. 4 (Summer, 1981), pp. 3-26

The Mukhabarat State: A Palestinian Woman’s Testimony
Rosemary Sayigh
Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 14, No. 3 (Spring, 1985), pp. 18-31

Palestinian Women Workers in the Israeli-Occupied Gaza Strip
Susan Rockwell
Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 14, No. 2 (Winter, 1985), pp. 114-36

The Women’s Movement during the Uprising
Joost R. Hiltermann
Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 20, No. 3 (Spring, 1991), pp. 48-57

Palestinian Women: Gender Politics and Nationalism
Sherna Berger Gluck
Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 24, No. 3 (Spring, 1995), pp. 5-15

Palestinian Women in the Camps of Jordan: Interviews
Stephanie Latte Abdallah
Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 24, No. 4 (Summer, 1995), pp. 62-72

Palestinian Camp Women as Tellers of History
Rosemary Sayigh
Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 27, No. 2 (Winter, 1998), pp. 42-58

Gender and Politics under the Palestinian Authority
Nahla Abdo
Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 28, No. 2 (Winter, 1999), pp. 38-51

The Emergence of the Palestinian Women’s Movement, 1929-39
Ellen L. Fleischmann
Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 29, No. 3 (Spring, 2000), pp. 16-32

Fragile Intimacies: Marriage and Love in the Palestinian Camps of Jordan (1948–2001)
Stéphanie Latte Abdallah
Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 38, No. 4 (Summer 2009), pp. 47-62

From Nationalist to Economic Subject: Emergent Economic Networks among Shatila’s Women
Diana Allan
Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 38, No. 4 (Summer 2009), pp. 75-90

Memories of Home and Stories of Displacement: The Women of Artas and the “Peasant Past”
Falestin Naïli
Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 38, No. 4 (Summer 2009), pp. 63-74

Interview with Khalida Jarrar: The Occupation Must End
Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 46, No. 3 (Spring 2017), 

Gendered Violence in Israeli Detention
Sahar Francis
Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 46, No. 1 (Summer 2017), 

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