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On Monday, April 15th, 2019, An-Najah National University’s Women’s Studies Graduate ‎Program and the Office of International Development and External Affairs in cooperation ‎with the General Union of Palestinian Women held the ‘Women Between Patriarchy and ‎Colonialism: Women’s Experiences Under Occupation and Colonialism’ International ‎Conference. The conference aimed at bringing together both activism and research to reflect ‎on women’s strategies to survive everyday life in a colonial context.‎


The event was attended by Dr. Kherieh Rassas, An-Najah’s Vice ‎President for International ‎Development and External Affairs, Mrs. Intisar Al-Wazir, President of the General Union of ‎Palestinian Women, Ms. Dalal Salameh, Member of the Central Committee of the ‎Palestinian National Liberation Movement (Fateh), Dr. ‎Mohammad El-Amleh, VP for ‎Academic Affairs, Dr. Samah Saleh, Chairperson of the conference and Head of Sociology ‎and Social Work Department as well as a number of representatives of women's ‎organizations and experts in the legal and social fields, students and other prominent ‎figures.‎

The event was attended by Dr. Kherieh Rassas, An-Najah’s Vice ‎President for International ‎Development and External Affairs, Mrs. Intisar Al-Wazir, President of the General Union of ‎Palestinian Women, Ms. Dalal Salameh, Member of the Central Committee of the ‎Palestinian National Liberation Movement (Fateh), Dr. ‎Mohammad El-Amleh, VP for ‎Academic Affairs, Dr. Samah Saleh, Chairperson of the conference and Head of Sociology ‎and Social Work Department as well as a number of representatives of women's ‎organizations and experts in the legal and social fields, students and other prominent ‎figures.‎

In the opening speech, Dr. Rassas welcomed the attendees and expressed her happiness with ‎the strong local and international participation in the conference. She noted how An-Najah ‎has supported important societal and national issues, first and foremost women's issues, ‎pointing to women's struggle and experiences in Palestine and how Palestinian women ‎continue to struggle against oppression. Dr. Rassas also referred to women's rights in ‎Palestine and commended recent Palestinian legislation and laws adopted by the Palestinian ‎Authority with regards to women's rights.‎

She added that the current Palestinian reality makes it imperative for all women's ‎institutions to deepen cooperation with community institutions to empower women. Lastly, ‎she expressed hope that this conference will deliberate and discuss all the different facets of ‎this exciting topic and come up with recommendations that will lead to a better, healthier, ‎world in Palestine.‎

In her speech, Mrs. Al-Wazir thanked the event participants, organizers and supporters ‎for ‎their efforts and stressed the importance of the conference's themes. She praised Palestinian ‎women for their steadfastness and sacrifice and highlighted how the Palestinian woman has ‎been and continues to be the partner of the Palestinian man in his struggle and resistance ‎since the beginning of the Palestinian revolution.‎

Al-Wazir also referred to the General Union of Palestinian Women or (GUPW) as the ‎official representative of Palestinian women and said that it was established in 1965 as a ‎body in the PLO with the goal of creating an active role for women in the social, economic ‎and political spheres of the Palestinian territories.‎

Dr. Saleh pointed out that the conference will showcase conceptual, theoretical and ‎empirical research that explore the experience of women in conflict areas and strive to ‎amplify women’s experiences of militarization, refugee status, political participation, ‎economic empowerment, and violence both regionally and globally.‎

She also noted that the conference will discuss topics related to women under colonialism ‎and occupation.

The conference included four sessions, the first focusing on  “Revising Narratives: ‎Feminism, Palestine and Gender Justice," presented by Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi, as well as ‎‎"Feminists' Role in National Liberation,” presented by Ms. Mona Alkhalealy of the General ‎Union of Palestinian Women. ‎

The second session, titled "Gender Based Violence" began with Professor Muhammad Haj ‎Yahya presenting on "The Patriarchal Nature of Arab Societies and its Relationship to Wife ‎Abuse" followed by Dr. Ameera Shaheen’s research on "Enhancing Health Care Response to ‎Gender Based Violence in the Palestinian Territories," and moderated by Dr. Sanaa Sargholi.‎

The third session, titled "Women Under Occupation and in Areas of Conflict and ‎International Law" included a presentation by Tamara Tamimi of Miftah, "Protecting ‎Women From Conflicts in War Zones: Palestinian Women as a Case Study," followed by a ‎presentation of ‘The Role of Women in Making Decisions and Their Ability to Change ‎Decisions Within the Palestinian Authority " by Dr. Maysoon AlRajhi Malaysia. Hadi ‎AlSheeb presented on "International Protection of Women During Armed Conflicts" and ‎the session was concluded with a presentation by Mrs Reema Nazzal, ‘A Palestinian ‎Feminist Perspective on the Execution of the 1325 Resolution."‎

The third session was followed by a Round Table on women in the workplace and included ‎a presentation by Manar Younes, "The Reality of Palestinian Working Women in Israeli ‎Settlements," Hiba Jitawwi’s ‘Palestinian Women Working in Agriculture Under ‎Occupation,"Duha Maari and Dr. Alia Assali’s ‘Representation of Women’s Work in the ‎Palestinian Curriculum’ and a presentation by Palestinian police officer Rana Kholi.‎

A parallel session on women under colonialism and occupation included diverse ‎presentations including ‘The Invisible Struggle of Palestinian Women and Ending ‎Occupation, ‘Understanding Female Palestinian Activists and Seeking Hope and Equality, ‎‎‘Women’s Freedom is the Basis of Self Determination: A Kurdistan Case Study,’ and a ‎Palestinian Case study.  ‎

A student focuses research workshop on ‘Participatory Action Research in STE'M, Feminist ‎Research Methodologies' was led by Dr. Deborah Young and included an overview of ‎feminist research strategies and techniques. The workshop was attended by current ‎undergraduate students of the medicine, engineering, and science fields.  ‎

The second day of the conference will include panels and discussions on marriage in ‎Palestine, society and feminist research, women between secularism and religion, women ‎and displacement, refugee experiences, and women within popular resistance.  The ‎conference is expected to conclude with a session on recommendations and strategies going ‎forward as well as a closing certificate ceremony.  ‎


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