The struggle of Arab women goes back as far as the beginning of colonialism. Throughout the Arab world, from al-Mashreq (the Eastern part of the Arab world) to al-Maghreb (the Western part of the Arab world), women have been heavily involved in the anti-colonial anti-imperialist struggle. This is also, and perhaps more true for Palestinian women. Still, and not unlike the struggles of their people in general, women’s struggle has largely been ignored, if not silenced. Both western (including Israeli) imperialist/Orientalist voices along with local/national masculinist voices have contributed to the silencing of women’s voices and ignoring their experiences. When Palestinian women began to be involved in the armed struggle against settler colonialism, the west in general and its feminist movement more specifically began to take interest in their struggle: an interest that was mostly damning, and incriminatory. This talk focuses on the Western feminist discourse on Palestinian women’s struggle and the responses to such discourse by Palestinian women political activists. Special emphasis in this talk will be placed on the struggle of Palestinian women Political prisoners.
Dr. Nahla Abdo is an Arab feminist activist and Professor of Sociology at Carleton University. She has published extensively on women, racism, nationalism, and the State in the Middle East, with a special focus on Palestinian women.