I have to say I had a hard time dragging myself out of bed at 7am on a Sunday morning. However, I was looking forward to the day. I had planned to attend a training for women organized by the WATC, my host organization in Ramallah.
The WATC has many amazing projects, one of which is aimed at training women in Palestinian legislation with the emphasize on family law and gender issues. I guess it would be an understatement to say that I was taken by surprise when I walked into the conference room full of Palestinian women from Ramallah and the nearby villages all having notebooks, print-outs of the Palestinian constitution, and the eagerness to learn.
The training the WATC has organized included 6-day workshops in Ramallah and several other Palestinian towns. The project proved to be so successful that the organization is planning to do the training of trainers. The idea is to teach the women who attended the initial training sessions to conduct similar workshops in their local communities.
That Sunday was actually the last of the 6 days and the women had a lot to discuss. I was amazed to find how knowledgeable, passionate, and strong the group was. For a moment I thought about my own country.
Here I was, in a Muslim culture around women who are successfully fighting for their rights despite all stereotypes. And on the other hand I realized that seminars like these would still be impossible in today’s Belarus, the supposedly free country on the border with the European Union.
The Palestinian women were in the middle of a discussion about legal grounds for Mahmoud Abbas to form an emergency government when the news came about two women ministers appointed by Salam Fayyad. The conference room immediately filled with joyful singing, dancing, and applauding.
I couldn’t help thinking about the other women I came to know in Palestine, the women from Betunia village, for example. The ones who also wear head scarfs, but who are too afraid to have an opinion.
The ones who dropped out of schools, who stay in the house all day cooking and cleaning, who are not allowed to walk the streets of Ramallah without their husbands’ permission, whose sole entertainment of the day is gossiping with the neighbors. Amazing, how similar yet how different these two kinds of women are…
Posted By Tatsiana Hulko
Posted Jun 18th, 2007