The Intifada and Women’s Struggle

Against the Current, No. 31, March/April 1991

This is the text of the final resolution of the “The Intifada and Women’s Social Issues” conference held in Al Quds (Jerusalem), December 14, 1990. The translation is by News From Within.

CONVENED AT THE initiative of the Bisan Research Center with the participation of women’s organizations, volunteer and charity organizations and a number of Palestinian academicians and intellectuals, “The intifada and women’s social issues” conference bore the slogan: “Together towards the light and equality.”

All the participants agreed upon the importance of the remarkable role played by the Palestinian women throughout the glorious intifada in various realms—the political, the struggle, the economic, social and cultural—which of course strengthened the general national struggle. This role has also earned women great respect in all strata of Palestinian society; because [it demonstrates] their continuing struggle to implement our general national goals—the right to return, self-determination and the establishment of our independent state.

Palestinian women have chosen not to discuss some of the social and women’s issues, which might distract us from the main struggle against the Israeli occupation. However, this choice, which we made of our own free will and responsibility, must not prevent the discussion of some important issues concerning social and women’s problems, especially those which may constitute an obstacle to the development of Palestinian women’s role in the struggle and politics. [To neglect] this discussion would threaten all the achievements made by women during their long struggle. In addition, this would cut Palestinian women off from intellectual and cultural connectedness with women in the rest of the world, who are struggling together for freedom, democracy and equality.

The participants are in agreement that it is very important to focus on some social problems [in particularj faced by Palestinian women, and to concentrate on the social and female dimension of the general, national struggle, especially during the intifada. They also agree that it is very important to link the national and the democratic struggles in every reaim; political, economic, social and intellectual.

The following phenomena and social problems were discussed and analyzed during this conference:

1. The low level of Palestinian women’s participation in decision-making [both] on the general political and national level and in all fields inside and outside [of Palestine]; a situation which is inappropriate, given the importance of Palestinian women’s individual qualities and their distinguished role during the Palestinian struggle.

2. The phenomenon of school and university dropout: This dangerous and worrying phenomenon reached its peak during the intifada, due to measures imposed by the occupation [authorities] against the various educational institutions, and other special factors [with their roots in Palestinian society itself]. If this phenomenon continues, it will further decrease women’s participation in various social activities.

3. The phenomenon of early marriage and its economic, social and intellectual impact.

4. The guarantee of basic rights for women, the principle of ideological and political pluralism, and of respect for individual and social freedom. We express our objection to any phenomenon contradicting these principles, especially the imposition of the veil.

5. The problems of women prisoners, and the need to examine the negative social attitude towards them, and to find suitable solutions to this problem.

6. The various forms of discrimination against women in different realms, especially in education and work.

At the end of the conference, the participants declared their intention to set up a broad committee composed of women from various social organizations and frameworks, to follow up on women’s social issues and to make proposals and recommendations for solutions of these problems and for the general improvement of the status of Palestinian women.

March-April 1991, ATC 31