Encounters with Palestinian Women under Occupation
At the beginning, anyone setting out to examine the situation of Palestinian women confronts a dilemma, both practical and ideological: the need to decide whether or not there is a problem of woman independent of the collective national problem, and what is the correct relation between the two. Any attempt to escape this dilemma leads either to a feminism that ignores the effects of Ottoman/British/Israeli oppression on Palestinian social/family structures; or to a sterile nationalism without social content.
Current interest in the situation of Third World women has naturally had its effects in the Palestinian arena. After decades of media-starvation, Palestinians are suddenly being bombarded by journalists, film-makers, researchers, novelists, conference-conveners, all interested in one topic: Palestinian women. Torn between their need for international exposure, and their. distrust of singling out any particular category (especially women) for the spotlight, Palestinians have responded with confusion.
Rosemary Sayigh is the author of The Palestinians: From Peasants to Revolutionaries (London: Zed Press, 1979). She is at present engaged on a field study on the politicization of Palestinian women, made possible by a research grant from the Institute for Arab Studies, Boston.