Editors: Sohela Nazneen , Maheen Sultan
Author: Eileen Kuttab
This chapter situates the analysis of the Palestinian women’s movement in a colonial context and conceptualises the relation between the national liberation struggle against the Israeli occupation and social emancipation. It traces the historical development of the women’s movement including the contemporary professionalisation and institutionalisation of women's activism in the nineties, and its impact in expanding the gap between women’s leadership and grassroots.
The author grounds her reflections on gender and the complex situation of the post-Oslo agreement which resulted in isolating women politically and socially, and limiting their roles as a consequence of cantonisation, and internal conflict between political factions, which has marginalised women’s voice further in the political process.
In addition the author discusses the scope for women to have a role and effective voice within the Palestinian Authority as part of the new bureaucracy. A focus on international agencies such as the UN organisations are seen to have had a role in influencing the Palestinian Authority to giving at least lip-service to gender equality, at the cost of de-politicisation. The tensions of trying to establish women’s rights and voice within a context where women's citizenship rights are not ensured is highlighted.
The chapter also highlights that active involvement in national liberation struggles may not lead to social transformation of gender relations once peace is established.