Fobzu recently celebrated International Women's Day on 8th March, a day recognised by the United Nations since 1977 but with roots in the women’s and labour movements of the early 20th century. Co-hosted with the Department of International Development at King’s College in London, the event featured a panel discussion on Women, Education, and Empowerment, with three prominent Palestinian scholars representing diverse disciplinary backgrounds.
During the event, Samia Botmeh, an assistant professor of Economics at Birzeit University, presented her study on Palestinian women in the labour market and the paradox of their low participation, despite their high educational attainment, which is one of the highest in the Middle East and North Africa. Botmeh showed how the cause of female under-employment could be partly explained by Israeli colonial practices that undermine productive sectors, where women are typically employed.
Rania Jawad, Director of the Institute of Women's Studies at Birzeit, shared her personal experience and reflections of navigating Israel's tightening restrictions on access to Palestine as an educator at Birzeit University. She also discussed her new study on transnational development projects that aim to tackle gender-based violence and how Palestinian artists, employed by international NGOS navigate projects that often frame gender-based violence as a problem culturally specific to the global south and in need of Western intervention.
In her talk, Rafeef Ziadah emphasised the importance of studying labour in Palestine for understanding the impact of Israeli settler colonialism, and explored avenues of solidarity and organising against it. Her recent study on Covid-19, Labour, and Trade Unions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, revealed the devastating impact the pandemic had on Palestinian women workers but also showed signs of a revival of independent trade unionism seeking to overcome the fragmentation of Palestinian politics.
To watch the discussion, visit Fobzu's YouTube channel. Fobzu regularly hosts webinars and live events as part of its Education, Occupation & Liberation programme, co-hosted by UCU. Sign up to receive updates on their events and activities.