Palestinians in the West Bank city of Hebron are gearing up for a municipal election in October. The last time residents of Hebron were able to choose city officials directly was back in 1976. And this time around, voters will have also have a novel choice. One of the candidate lists on the ballot is made up entirely of women.
Maysoun Qawasmi has been busy with old fashioned politicking, knocking on lots of doors to get her campaign off the ground. On a recent afternoon, she walked into a Hebron appliance shop, held out her hand and began to introduce herself.
Qawasmi is a 43-year-old mother of five whose style of dress pegs her as a middle class Palestinian Muslim. She wears a headscarf, but she doesn’t describe herself as religious. She is a journalist and a women’s rights activist. So Qawasmi is no stranger to working outside the home. She comes from a well-known Hebron family. But she is new to politics herself.
Qawasmi is leading an independent bloc of candidates, all of them women. And that is a first for Palestinian politics. When she mentioned this to a customer at the appliance shop, the young woman in a green headscarf said she liked what she was hearing.
“I will support a women’s list for sure,” the young Hebron voter said. “I feel that this society here is male-oriented and whatever institution we are talking about, we need women in order highlight the challenges that women face all the time in their life.”
Read more at The World, published 20 September 2012.