Palestinian women must play an active role in the liberation of Palestine, they symbolise the "roots" of the cause by supporting and nourishing it, audience members were told today at the final day of the Palestinians Abroad conference.
"First and foremost, we must fight the consensus that women are better staying at home. This is untrue and it is ignorant and women should not succumb to such demands," one contributor said. "Our shyness is our worst enemy. We cannot be shy, we cannot be timid and we must not succumb to the demands of the social stigmas that bring us down," another added.
Speaking during seminars on "The role of Palestinian women living abroad" and "The role of unions in aiding the Palestinian cause" and "Improving the role of the youth in the Palestinian cause", experts and audience members spoke of the increasing contribution which women are having and must have on highlighting the cause and spreading it.
Palestinian women who make up the diaspora have a duty to resist the occupation beginning within their homes, audiences were told. "Just as we teach Palestinian girls to take care of their education, their personalities, their looks, we must teach them that they must question themselves about what they have done for the Palestinian cause." Teaching the next generation about the cause and its history was not the only thing women were encouraged to do, "not many women join unions, and we urge women to be more active in them," one contributor said. "We cannot leave it to academics in Europe to boycott Israel and we sit back and watch," she added. "We need to take part in the political system both in the Middle East and abroad in particular in Europe where we can change the view of Palestine from the Zionist perspective."
If the Palestinian cause were an olive tree, Palestinian women would make up its "roots". In spite of this, many speakers believes issues relating to gender inequality were largely overlooked by their male counterparts.
The Palestinian cause would also benefit from other changes, not least of leadership, speakers agreed. New elections and an end to the rule of the Palestinian Authority which has been in power for "too long". "If there was no PA [Palestinian Authority] and a coherent resistance and an intifada, then we could at the very least dismantle settlements and make some change."