Palestinian Women organizing in Jerusalem


What does the space for Palestinian women’s organizing in Jerusalem look like? How are women adapting to the evermore professionalization and NGO-ification of Palestinian civil society? And how do women, living in Jerusalem, establish a political platform for their organizing, when their main counterpart, the Palestinian National Authority, is inaccessible.  

Seeking an answer to these questions, Kvinna till Kvinna and United Nations Development Programme in Jerusalem has prepared and published Palestinian Women Organizing in Jerusalem to mark the 10 year anniversary of UNSCR 1325 on women and peace and security. You can find the report here to the right. The report was presented in Jerusalem by Kvinna till Kvinna and UNDP launched the report to an audience of over 60 representatives from local and international civil society.

– Through the research we really saw how the women’s movement is being undermined because women organising in Jerusalem tend to disassociate themselves from political organising and from each other,said Linda Öhman, field representative for Kvinna till Kvinna in Jerusalem.

This reflects a legitimate concern expressed by Palestinian women’s activists that the transformation and professionalization of civil society is limiting their political platform. Organizations have become more dependent on knowing and speaking donor-language and increase the divide between the organizations and the actual women whom they seek to support.

The report, which is based on twelve in depth interviews with different types of Palestinian women’s organizations in Jerusalem, explores different types of organizations’ strengths and weaknesses and their access to a political platform. It also considers how the donor community can support women’s organizing:

– We think that donor funding can expand the scope of activities of women’s organizations beyond the basics of survival and whether more effective donor strategies can be put in place that facilitate a growth in women’s participation and leadership that is protective of women’s political purposes within the liberation struggle, said Vanessa Farr, Senior Gender Advisor at the UNDP in Jerusalem. 

– Sometimes it is not nice to look in the mirror. The women’s movement used to be much broader and include many more women, said Amal Khreishe Director of the Palestinian Working Women’s Society for Development.

The conclusions made in the report and points raised during the discussion acknowledged the lack of cohesion amongst women’s organizing, the separation from the grassroots and the move away from a political ideology. 

– The professionalization has increased the level of competition and thus taken away space for women’s organizations to network and to work together, said Vanessa Farr. 

– The Palestinian women’s movement might not be the same as it used to be, said Linda Öhman, “but it’s there and we need to continue to create spaces to share ideas for supporting and strengthening a political platform for organizing, said Linda Öhman.


Åsa Carlman