Palestinian women in Israel face a triple oppression: from their own patriarchal society, at the hands of the state as Palestinians, and at the hands of the state as women. In establishing the first Gender Studies Program studying Palestinian women in Israel, Mada aims to uncover and analyze the various manifestations of these intersecting oppressions, engage women researchers and activists, and devise policies to advance the status of Palestinian women. GSP – Mada also aims to develop new theorizations, and draw the interest of scholars around the world.
Women’s Access to Justice Project
In March 2014, Mada’s Gender Studies Program launched the Women’s Access to Justice Project – a multidisciplinary, intersectional applied research study led by Palestinian feminist academics. The project was formed in response to the challenges faced by Palestinian women attempting to access justice for gender-based crimes in state, customary, and religious legal structures. It contributes to the international feminist civil society movement’s focus on ensuring the ability of women to achieve legal redress.
The project aims to produce primary data that will aid in the understanding of the forces that promote or inhibit Palestinian women’s access to justice, in both the formal Israeli legal system and informal Palestinian channels. It is a project that ultimately hopes to produce policy recommendations to enable women to better access justice, and to increase the availability of resources required to access justice for women who come from marginalized social backgrounds.
The project has produced three position papers, which are accessible online in English by clicking the hyperlinked titles below:
- “The Living Death of the Bereaved: The Experiences of Women Survivors” By Suhad Daher-Nashif and Samah Salaime-Igbariye (November 2014)
- “Palestinian Women’s Interactions with the Israeli Police Force: Access to Justice for Palestinian Women in Israel” By Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian And Saeda Mokari-Renawi (November 2014)
- “Going to the Ecclesiastical Courts for Protection and Access to Justice: An Indigenous Feminist Reading” By Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian and Sana Khsheiboun (January 2015)
Palestinian Women’s Political Economy
The GSP’s research study on “‘Security Reasoning,’ Spatial Politics, Patriarchy, and the Economic Rights of Palestinian Women in Israel” investigates the relations between political-economic policies, bureaucracies, and social-political processes that affect the economic status of Palestinian women. Economic status, broadly defined, includes Palestinian women’s ability to enjoy basic rights, such as access to clean water, health care, transportation and other services, and protection from violence, as well as to attain education, find jobs, open new businesses, and participate in both the formal and informal economies.
The study’s primary objectives include: 1) to conduct a comprehensive investigation of Palestinian women’s economic development in Israel, focusing specifically on the intersection of economic rights and spatial politics and the obstacles to economic development through the various stages of women’s lives; and 2) to address and ultimately promote this population’s economic entitlements.
Following discussions with academic advisory teams, reviews of the literature, and field consultations (with local NGOs and activists), the study selected three geographic sites and several theoretical foci:
• El-Safafri and Jabal el-Dule neighborhoods of Nazareth: Internally Displaced Refugees from destroyed villages Saffuriya and al-Mujaydil
• Bedouin in the Naqab: Human Rights Activism; Health and Water – Legal Aspects; Spatial Politics and Women’s Economic Rights; Destruction of Entire Villages (e.g., Al-Araqib) and Bedouin Women’s Political Economy
• Jaffa: Palestinian Women, Globalization, and Political Economy
Research methods include interviews, focus groups, workshops, and statistical review.
Gender Studies and Action Research
The Gender Studies Program (GSP) had taken the lead at Mada in engaging in action research. In addition to studying women’s action and struggle, the GSP participates along-side women’s organizations in local and international coalitions and forums. The GSP joins voices from the academy and research to voices of women activists to contribute to collective activities and projects.
In its aim to value and include Palestinian women’s voices in research – in constructing new narratives and theories – the GSP turns to grass-roots organizations as a starting point for research. Project topics, questions, and foci often begin with women’s on-the-ground struggles and needs. Throughout the phases of research, the GSP continues to turn to local women for their input and feedback so that it may remain authentic and relevant to women’s experience.
In addition to maintaining groundedness in the local space, the GSP also aims to reach out to the world-wide feminist community, so that the insights and theorizing developed elsewhere may inform the experience of Palestinian women, and in turn local experience can play a role in the international women’s movement. Through publication of its research, participation in international conferences and coalitions, and networking, the GSP fosters this important exchange.