The Ambassador and staff of the Embassy of the State of Palestine in Canberra would like to extend their warm greetings to all women around the world and express, in particular, congratulations for their hard-fought and ongoing gains in rights and equality.
The 8th of March is an opportunity to reflect on the achievements of women’s movements worldwide and how, despite persistent challenges and different forms of discrimination, progress is still being made towards full female empowerment. A topical example of another step in the right direction is Energy Australia’s decision on the 7th of March to invest $1.2 million to close the gender pay gap within its company for good. Decisions such as these carry more than just a financial gain; there is an important (if overdue) message of genuine and equal recognition of women’s efforts in their work and career development.
The Day also presents the opportunity to express our solidarity with Palestinian women in their daily struggle for their rights and dignity under Israeli occupation. The oppressive atmosphere that accompanies the occupation has been recently typified by the arrest, incarceration and ongoing trial of Ahed Tamimi. Her case is yet another reminder of the stifling lack of freedoms for politically engaged young women and women who just simply want to express their indignation at Israel’s illegal and inhuman settlement and colonization project.
The fight for Palestinian women’s rights transcends borders, albeit for sometimes different objectives. Most Palestinian citizens of Israel, while granted the same rights as Jewish Israelis on paper, face a social reality of second-class citizenship and strong ‘iron ceilings’ that restrict their public participation. Housing shortages, employment discrimination and, based on a report by The Jerusalem Fund’s director Yousef Munayyer, 20 percent of Israel’s population living on less than 7 percent of its annual budget are all evidence of this entrenched, institutionalized discrimination. Human rights are women’s rights and so any deficit in the former translates into another layer of difficulty for Palestinian-Israeli women, many of whom have to confront a social patriarchy and rigid gender norms at the same time.
The Ambassador and staff would also like to recognize women in the Palestinian diaspora for their steadfastness in maintaining resistance through many different initiatives as well as for their efforts towards community cohesion and solidarity. Also, we would like to recognize and appreciate the advocacy work conducted by Palestinian women in diasporas in defending the political and national rights of the Palestinian people.
Happy International Women’s Day.