Uppförsbacke för kvinnliga journalister i Gaza

Det finns idag ungefär 120 kvinnliga journalister i Gaza, varav de flesta är frilansare. Kvinna till Kvinnas pressekreterare Anna-Carin Hall bloggar om ett möte med Mariam, som vittnar om de svåra villkoren för kvinnor som vågar sig på ett mansdominerat yrke i det mansdominerade samhället.

Kvinnors marginalisering i palestinska samhälle är enorm. Det är inte tillåtet att tala med kvinnor direkt utan en måste fråga deras män om lov och att männen säger oftast nej. Foto: Kvinna till Kvinna/Linda Öhman

Jag träffade Mariam (som egentligen heter något annat) på en workshop om genus- och konfliktmedveten journalistik. Hon är en av de tre personer som lyckades att få tillstånd att lämna Gaza för att resa till  Västbanken just för att delta i mötet. Tre andra fick inte tillstånd och ingen vet varför. För att lämna Gaza krävs tillstånd från Israel men en måste ha ett tydlig syfte med resan och att få ett sådant tillstånd är extremt svårt. Gaza kallas ibland världens största fängelse, och nu börjar jag förstå varför …

En av journalisterna från Gaza, Mariam, berättar om hur situationen har varit för de kvinnliga mediearbetarna i Gaza under de senaste åtta åren av blockad och speciellt under förra sommarens krig.

”Gazas kvinnliga journalister jobbar i uppförsbacke. De utsätts ofta för smutskastning av samhället och har svårt att röra sig fritt ute. Det var illa förut och nu är det värre,” säger Mariam.

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Maintaining Hope in Gaza

One of the strong women that continue keeping hope in Gaza. Photo: Kvinna till Kvinna/ Magnea Marinosdottir

One of the resilient women maintaining hope in Gaza. Photo: Kvinna till Kvinna/ Magnea Marinosdottir

She is standing outside under the blue sky with five of her kids in one of the neighbourhoods hardest hit in the war last summer. Compared to last time I was in Gaza four months ago, there are little signs of change: some piles of rubbles with rubble removal on-going, some piles of sand and gravel, and small groups of men working on reconstructing roads and infrastructure I assume. Yet very few are repairing their own apartments or houses.

She agrees to show me inside the 4-5 square meter space where she lives with her husband and the children.  The mattresses they sleep on are piled up by one wall while rest of their belongings are up against the other walls including a small gas stove where she cooks meals for the family.  The room they are living in is the only part of their house which was left standing after the war when they were forced to flee first to a hospital that was used as a shelter until it was bombed and then to a UNWRA school. They were offered to move into a container. Instead, they decided to move back to what is remaining of their home – one little room – hoping they can soon begin to rebuild their house.

Instead of moving to a container, the family decided to stay in what is left of their own home. Photo: Kvinna till Kvinna/ Magnea Marinosdottir

Instead of moving to a container, the family decided to stay in what is left of their own home. Photo: Kvinna till Kvinna/ Magnea Marinosdottir

They are still waiting for support. They get coupons to purchase food as they lost their livestock during the war and are not in a position to make any income to purchase a new one. Their situation is same or similar to the situation of many others who lost their home and livelihood during the war.

The spirit of this mother and her cheerful kids is something I hope they manage to maintain until they will receive the required assistance so they can have a future.

When will justice come to Gaza?

Women and children in Gaza waiting for reconstruction of their homes. Photo: Kvinna till Kvinna/Magnea Marinosdottir.

Women and children in Gaza are waiting for the reconstruction of their homes.

These women were sitting in the shade in front of demolished buildings. Not only have they lost their homes, they have also lost their livelihoods – the goats and the bees. They used to produce milk, cheese and meat, and their honey was the best they claim. They were managing fine. Now all is gone.

During the day, they sit in the shade in front of the ruins waiting for justice to arrive, the reconstruction of their homes and livelihoods. The international community did not (manage to) prevent the “collateral damage”, including bombing of homes, factories, mosques, and death of civilians. The international community is paying the bill…again. The donor conference in Cairo last Sunday was claimed to be a success. The funding exceeded the pledge made.

This week, the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, visited Gaza. He said the destruction was beyond description. I agree. The Network of Palestinian NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations) is calling for the establishment of a national committee, including women human rights organisations, to ensure inclusiveness and transparency during the reconstruction phase. The question is if the allocation of these funds will be accountable to women’s rights and gender equality and even include affirmative action to ensure such accountability? The future of the baby girl in the photo – born on the first day of the military offensive in Gaza, 7th of July – and of the women and their children will depend on the answer to that question.

A young girl walks beside the rubble of destroyed buildings. Photo: Kvinna till Kvinna/Magnea Marinosdottir.

A young girl walks beside the rubble of destroyed buildings.

Thirsting for justice – a review of the Sjövik seminar 14-16 June

The 11th Sjövik seminar 2013 started one day after the Swedish Minister of International Development Cooperation announced that Sweden should cut its development aid to Palestine, since it yields no visible results. The focus of the seminar was the water situation and the situation of women in Palestine. As usual, restrictions on travel for Palestinians implied that the planned participants were not able to attend which resulted in a list of guests that were not necessarily as familiar with the topic of women’s rights in Palestine as the original plan. However, the guests made up for it with compelling and moving personal stories about being women in Palestine.

The only guest from Israel, Lihi Joffe from New Profile, did a very good job of focusing on feminism and the impact of militarism on the Israeli society. She spoke in depth about the way in which militarism infiltrates all parts of Israeli society. Her talk started with the question: “Do we have a country with an army or do we have an army with a country?”  and went on to inform the audience about the societal sanctions that people who leave the army or refuse to serve will face in the Israeli society; how schools create a ranking system or a pecking order between students based on how many in their family that have served in the army during the history of wars in Israel.

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Another day… another focus

Tomma gator i Gaza. Foto: Kvinna till kvinna/ Anna Levin

We wake up to another day of the news mill cranking out information on Gaza:  the number injured, who started it, when they started it, what the world leaders say, how it will end…  I don’t want to trivialize this, but there is also another, a different side: that is the lives of people that go on in Gaza.

The lives of women continue under this difficult situation, and the role and responsibilities they hold don’t dissipate. Yet carrying on with these under such circumstances does not get reported – so this is what I want to tell you about in this blog.

Women are their children’s primary caregivers. Yet it’s a struggle to be strong and not to show your fear, when your children are afraid. “They tell me, ‘Be strong for your kids. But how can I when I am afraid’,” says Mona, one of the women I’ve spoken to.

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