Some Palestinian women are still living in the dark ages, forced to stay home, do not practice their own rights, and are tied up to men’s ideas… These are common frequent thoughts that spread among people from all over the world but the facts not well known and many changes occurred that will make you think again. In fact Palestinian women, In the West Bank, have a significant presence as activists, protesting against an unjust occupation, play a great role as the fundamental of a fragmented and inhibit society.
Politically; they did so in new ways, for example by protests, attending political conferences and seminars, contacting political officials, and joining political parties. By the time, they took a membership of the main Palestinian political factions and made it to formal politics in 1964. In recent years, more women have however started joining the police, reflecting a change within both police and society towards the role of women in security institutions.
Since the early days of the Palestinian struggle, women have been supporting men side by side to rescue their own land. The real start was when they were able to form charitable organizations and express themselves, few women turned to more militant activities like Leila Khalid who became a familiar face in the Western media when hijacked several airliners on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Palestinians women against society
Yet, Palestinian women had to face the traditionally conservative society, many normal attitudes were considered shameful when practiced by women such as involving in any field that requires working with men or as men, another example is her ability to live or travel alone on clear roads. That minimized their progress in many aspects but many younger women found a new kind of freedom through education and political mobilization.
“I’ve always wanted to study mechanical engineering since I was a little girl but I couldn’t do it,” Sandy Mashaqi said, an engineer from the West Bank. Sandy surrendered to society’s look and had to let go, instead, she started studying industrial engineering, during three years of studying an inner voice kept calling for its freedom. “ There wasn’t any girl studying mechanical engineer because of the look others will look at them,” Sandy added.
The fact that women have been facing the fear of showing up and acting the way they are has played a major role of helping society to keep acting the way it does.“Since I can fly and I have all the potentials needed why would I stay at the ground, with the support of my mother I converted the major and entered the world of mechanics.” Sandy Proudly added. The 24 years old girl finished her engineering studies and graduated to receive a great opportunity to work in her field.
Sandy Mashaqi in a seminar supporting other girls to do whatever they see themselves doing.
Many habits are still unacceptable to do in public like riding bikes, horses but it is very common and acceptable to ride cars.
Critical Parental thoughts Palestinian women face
In the past, Due to the lacking number of universities, girls had to travel from their homes to universities, and because of the Israeli regulation, such as putting hundreds of checkpoints on the roads, girls were likely to experience harassment at the checkpoints. Plus to education expenses and university accommodation was really high many parents kept their daughters at home. And even marry them off at the earliest possible opportunity; The age of marriage began to fall.
Parents in Palestine preferred males because the boys carry “the name of the family and secure “the continuity of the family line and strengthens the likelihood of its economic stability. On the other hand, Palestinian females were not expected to secure income for the family, but to adapt to the customary roles of women in Palestinian society wherein females were traditionally molded as inferior to men. This phenomenon still exists today, in the villages more likely, but with less pressure, where the women’s role focuses on Home Business, Education, and having children.
Nowadays, the universities number has increased to be in almost every city in the West Bank and most of the Palestinian women are achieving universities education, instead of only receiving education at the secondary level. Reasons for the change of parental attitude were the “increased demand for women on the labor market”, changes in the status of the economy in the territory, the “economic interests” of the parents, and the idea that a well-educated Palestinian woman has a better place and opportunity on the “marriage market”. In addition to this, armed with earned education, an unmarried daughter can financially support herself and her parents.
While in the present time, women have become active and influential in society with the acquisition of a lot of powers. It has become a pride of the family and plays important role in many businesses sectors, especially in the market and economy.
A significant decrease in the rate of early marriage among females
The results of the Population, Housing and Establishments Census 2017 indicated that the percentage of women (20-24 years) married before the age of 18 years in Palestine reached 8.5% in the West Bank. In 2007, this percentage was 17.0% in the West Bank.
In short, Palestinian women have experienced progress in different areas of life and the Palestinian society has become more open and less restricted by customs and traditions that focus on males. Women faced these barriers and constraints and embarked on their ambitions and achieved many achievements and successes.