After setting out the main analytical approaches to evaluating women's status, the article assesses the situation of women under the Palestinian Authority (PA) in two main areas: representation in "state" institutions and the law (formal, customary, and shari'a). The work of the women's nongovernmental organizations is surveyed, particularly their campaigns for legal literacy and women's electoral participation. The article concludes that the situation of women has advanced little, because of a number of structural impediments, including a general conservatism in society (including among women's groups) and the characteristics of the PA.
Nahla Abdo is an associate professor of sociology and anthropology at Carleton University in Ottowa. This paper is part of a larger field research project partially funded by the Development Research Center.