Palestinian women, violence, and the peace process

Much has been written about the contribution of Palestinian women to their nation's liberation struggle. They have not only survived in an atmosphere of remorseless violence, but have also made remarkable strides in terms of their rights and development as women. A question that has been less explored is the long-term impact of violence against women, whether in terms of their physical and psychological well-being or of their ability to participate in a meaningful way either in the conflict itself or in the post-conflict situation. This paper argues that, although Palestinian women are not simply victims but also agents of violence, such violence--whether random or institutionalised, perpetrated by the enemy or by their own people--places significant constraints on their ability to participate in the national liberation struggle. Consequently, they are inadequately prepared to contribute towards the peace process and, therefore, are prevented from realising their full potential in the new state. This article is freely available as a chapter in Development, Women and War: Feminist Perspectives