Empowering Palestinian Community-Based Women Leaders
Initial Statement of Impact – April 2018
This statement is written for the dozens of people who have supported this project so far. Your generosity and faith have allowed the following to occur:
- Community building amongst members of a deeply affected population: 35 Palestinian women came together for this part of the program from around Palestine as well as from the Galilee. Most women didn’t know each other before this event. All are now committed to continuing mutual support in small, local groups that will sustain their continued work. One of the women from Nazareth, for example, tearfully expressed at the end that for the first time her need for belonging is met, as she has never been with Palestinian women from the West Bank.
- Personal liberation for those present: given the pressing needs of the women present and the available resources, our main areas of focus have been:
- Vision: moving from statements of despair and powerlessness to each woman articulating a vision for Palestinian women that inspires her work. As we moved around the circle, the visions got clearer, and faces brighter.
- Inner freedom: moving the source of choice being external to a growing capacity to respond to the enormous challenges in their lives from within their own values and needs. By the end of our time, many were prepared to make courageous choices to face their circumstances differently.
- Dialogue and collaboration: despite conditioning for being silenced, the women learned and practiced listening to others across disagreements; coaching questions to support problem solving; and framing difficult conversations and engaging in dialogue.
Overall, every single woman shared the ways in which she’s been affected by her participation in this event. You can watch a short clip from some of their statements here. Overall, every single woman shared the ways in which she’s been affected by her participation in this event. You can watch a short clip from some of their statements here. (Note that because we chose fluent English speakers for this video, the women interviewed are all without head cover. The full group was largely Muslim and almost all of the Muslim women wear the head cover.)
- Follow-up activities: during this time together, we created structures of ongoing support for the coming year and beyond:
- We set up regional groups for mutual support (empathy and coaching) and for practicing skills.
- We identified eight women within the group who speak fluent English and can travel, and are sending them to participate in intensive training abroad, where they can meet and engage with people from around the world learning similar principles and practices, thus increasing their capacity to act as resources for the various regional groups.
- We identified a local NGO that can offer support in coordinating ongoing activities.
- We are making available monthly video conferences with Miki Kashtan.
- We have started conversations to plan for annual conferences like the one just ended.
- Filming and media: Shari Elle and Jax Wechsler from Australia became passionate about this project and engaged in massive fundraising in Australia. Their passion was to make it possible for as many women as possible to attend, and for the project to also be documented and filmed for many purposes. They joined us during our time together, and filmed most of what happened. The plan is for all participants will get much of the footage for their own learning, and a local videographer was hired to produce a 20-min story focusing on 4 of the women to illustrate the impact of what happened on their life and work. (This is likely to take 2-3 months, and our plan is to send a link to each person who contributed to this project.) Meanwhile, Shari and Jax were interviewed by a local TV station, and created a Facebook page.
Our fundraising efforts have generated $31,859.14 from 80 people. And we are still receiving more contributions as this fundraising effort remains open-ended for ongoing support to the project. We are incredibly grateful to the generosity of all of you who is making all this possible. All of us involved have had a distinct sense of grace and mystery supporting these efforts. We are all committed to continuing to work together to support Palestinian women in mobilizing their wisdom, dignity, and courage to take a lead in transforming their collective situation.