Students for Justice in Palestine discuss women

Students for Justice in Palestine hosted Rana Sharif, a gender studies professor at Loyola Marymount University and an activist for the conflict in Palestine, for a discussion about the current state of Palestine and how a major issue of concern for the future of the country lies within the topic of creating women’s rights.

Sharif is a member of the Southern California Palestinian American Women’s Association, which seeks to empower the lives of Arab-American women and children.

Her talk was part of the USC Palestine Awareness Week that takes place every spring.

Nashwah Akhtar, a second-year graduate student of public diplomacy and the organizer for the event, explained her motives for inviting Sharif to come and speak to USC students.

“Both are human rights issues that need to be addressed and as a student I try to find any avenue I can to be an activist and supporter for the marginalized,” she said.

During the talk, Sharif focused on organizing movements that have emerged in Palestine from 1920 to the present. She divided the time frame in three by addressing the different types of women’s movements that have emerged in the past few decades.

Sharif specifically addressed the movements that occurred during the British Mandate period.

“During this period, women organized themselves formally starting organizations such as the Arab Women’s Union,” Sharif said. “They also worked alongside their male counterparts, participated in demonstrations and delivered speeches to the British government.”

She then described the period after 1948 when the nation state was established. Sharif described how women retreated and established organizations such as the Arab Child Welfare House and the Red Crescent Society.

Today, Sharif says that women’s activism has moved to utilize more advanced forms of technology.

“Internet offers women a rejuvenated way to engage in activism,” she said.

During the discussion, various topics regarding women’s issues in Palestine were addressed. Students discussed the difficulty of transportation within Palestine and how it affects women’s health.

“Women are denied access to hospitals at Israeli checkpoints and are forced to give birth at checkpoints, often at the expense of both their lives and their newborns’ lives,” Akhtar said.

John-Peter Jupiter, a sophomore majoring in critical studies, expressed why he considered this issue important to him.

“It’s important to be involved because of the general sense of ‘let’s not talk about it’ and because of USC’s interest in settlements,” he said.

After the event was over, many students stayed to engage in personal conversations.

Akhtar said that she was content with the outcome of the talk.

“I’m really happy about how the talk went and … about the discussion that resulted afterwards,” she said.

Sharif encouraged students to participate in Palestine awareness events.

“Palestine is such a hot topic that the only way for students to feel comfortable is for them to attend events like these or the events of Palestine Awareness Week that allow for conversations like these,” she said.

She closed the event by explaining that the discussion period fostered a time for students to bring up their concerns and to address controversial topics in a respectful manner.

“Our discussion was probably the best, probably even better than the conversation. Conversations like these allow students to bring up their issues and concerns and whatever questions they might have and then have a cognizant conversation where we can create a community where all of our differences can be respected,” Sharif said.

3 replies
  1. Maram
    Maram says:

    Zionists are deflecting in these comments. Hamas does not train children. They’re problematic, absolutely, but very clearly a product of six decades of Israeli settler colonialism and brutality, repeated/continued displacement, grave human rights violations against indigenous Palestinians, and Israeli imposed instability. Not to mention, they’re largely powerless compared to Israel’s aggressive military. Zionists can’t endorse and justify their murder of children and expect no resistance. The root of the problem is Zionism. It’s a bigoted political movement and Israel is a settler colonial project. Like every settler colonial project, it destroys and seeks to replace indigenous people and places. No one can claim to care about any social justice platform with an ounce of integrity without this recognition. Nor can anyone intelligently claim to want peace without recognizing the deep suffering the Palestinian people have endured.

  2. Don Harmon
    Don Harmon says:

    How about freedom for Hamas to train thousands of their children to be murderers and suicide bombers? That is important, too, right? You don’t believe it? Do a search. Hamas is very proud of this barbaric program.

  3. Moscowito
    Moscowito says:

    Oh yes, women are treated so poorly at Israeli checkpoints. No specific mention of the treatment within Gaza. The lack of perspective to me here is simply mind-boggling. No accountability among Palestinian activists. All self-victimization and demonization of Israel. Dear Daily Trojan. Do better.

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