Parked on my sofa, watching the television news whilst flicking through another academic journal, Palestine feels like a whole different world. You know when something huge is about to happen and it just doesn’t yet feel real to you? Since I accepted AP’s offer to work as a Peace Fellow with Women’s Affairs Technical Committee (WATC), I have been studiously reading everything I can find about the Palestinian women’s movement. Although I’m packing my bags for Ramallah, it still feels somewhat like an imaginary. I read the daily reports, commentaries and heated debates on news websites, but as a previous visitor to Palestine I know how limited the coverage can often be as a representation of the reality “on the ground.” Through this blog, I hope to make real for you the voices and the lives of some of the West Bank’s residents. Inevitably, no account is ever exhaustive, and each reflects the author’s ideas about what is important to write about. This blog reflects my reality, but hopefully also brings you closer to the realities of the women whose rights WATC works to protect.
WATC was formed in 1992, when in response to the Oslo negotiations a hundred technical committees were established to begin building the framework for a future Palestinian state. As a coalition of women’s organisations, committees and independent activists, WATC sought to inscribe the rights of women in Palestinian law. When the Palestinian Authority (PA) was formed in 1994, Yassir Arafat incorporated the technical committees into its institutional framework as ministries – all of them, that is, except WATC, who have continued to operate as a networking body independently of the PA. Their mission is to eliminate discrimination against women, develop the role of women in society and empower women to assume decision-making positions, paying particular attention to marginalised women, including refugees and those living in rural areas. WATC’s projects are many, including radio and TV programmes, Voice of Women (صَوت اَلنِساء) newspaper, monitoring and advising the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) on gender issues and training young leaders in gender awareness and advocacy. In 2008, Palestine’s future remains uncertain, between the competing realities of international negotiations pushing for the “definition” of a state by the end of the year, and ongoing violence undermining hopes for reconciliation. How is WATC responding to the demands of this volatile political reality? What is the impact on women’s lives? How does the struggle for women’s rights relate to the national struggle for independent statehood? Over the next three months I hope to find answers to some of my many questions.
I will also respond to your questions and comments, which you can post by clicking on the link below. By making this blog interactive, I hope to bring you closer to the realities of women in Palestine. What would you like to know about the women’s movement, WATC, Palestinian feminism?
I fly out to Tel Aviv on Sunday night, and will post more once I arrive in Ramallah. Watch this space…
Posted By Hannah Wright
Posted May 29th, 2008