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Palestinian women, fighting for freedom and building the future

March 8, 2018, midnight

Today, on International Women’s Day we pay tribute to Palestinian women past, present and future. Palestinian women as the chief homemakers have kept the fabric of Palestinian family and social life together during its subjection to forces of violence and destruction, whether in the physical rupture from their homes and land in 1948, during the ethnic cleansing of their nation, or throughout 70 years of Israeli military rule, colonisation, occupation, apartheid and displacement. Palestinian women have worked and fought to give security to their families, to resist occupation and to preserve what it means to be a Palestinian, ontologically, culturally and politically.

Today Palestinian women continue to safeguard home, society and nation in diverse and courageous ways. On this International Women’s Day, 62 Palestinian women incarcerated in Israeli prisons. Of these, 6 are children, 17 are mothers and 9 were shot and injured before their arrest. Since 1967 and the beginning of Israel’s 50 year-long occupation, 10,000 Palestinian women have been arrested and held, often under administrative detention without charge or trial.

It is the courage and the resilience of these Palestinian women which inspires many women – and men, around the world. This has been very recently exemplified by the case of Ahed Tamimi. She was 16 when she was arrested and taken from her home in the village of Nabi Saleh near Ramallah, in December. She has since turned 17 in illegal Israeli detention, sanctioned by military court. Ahed was detained for slapping a soldier of the Israeli occupying forces, who invaded her family home. Her mother, Nariman Tamimi was also arrested for posting a tape on social media showing Ahed slapping the soldier. The courage of Palestinian women like Ahed and like Nariman will continue to inspire women to resist occupation but also to build a better future for themselves and future generations within Palestinian society and in the Palestinian diaspora.

Despite the immense pressure Palestinian women live under in occupied Palestine and in refugee camps, they are full of resourcefulness and hope and excel in academically and in the workplace. Many find success in all walks of life as teachers, scholars, scientists, entrepreneurs, artists and poets. If these women can do so well and give such inspiration when the odds are stacked against them, it heralds a bright future. Just as women are a powerful agency in the struggle for Palestinian freedom, they will be an inspirational force, once Palestine is free and will be vital and formidable partners in building a Palestinian state where all can flourish and reach their goals, especially all future generations of women.

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