Adalah Co-Organizes Religious Discourse and Feminism Workshop

Adalah, in conjunction with the Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA), organized a 3-day training workshop for 24 Palestinian activists from Israel to discuss and analyze religious discourse and feminism. Mashriqiyat, a research and advocacy NGO based in Gaza City devoted to promoting women’s rights throughout Palestine, hosted and led the training workshop, which was held on 23-25 June 2000.  Ms. Hoda Rouhana, Coordinator of Adalah’s Women and the Religious Courts Project, and Ms. Areen Hawari, Coordinator of HRA’s Women’s Human Rights Program, organized the workshop. 

Adalah’s Women and the Religious Courts Project, initiated in September 1999, focuses on promoting and protecting women’s rights in the Arab religious courts.  Its aim is to introduce feminist and progressive interpretations of religious laws, and challenge orthodox or traditional practices through educational programs and by conducting research and writing articles for the press and local journals.  In the future, the Project will offer legal representation to Palestinian women in the religious courts in Israel on their personal status matters. 

The Religious Discourse and Feminism Workshop introduced the participants to legal structures, constitutions, and laws in the Arab world, classical and progressive jurisprudence in Shar’ia and the ways in which these approaches affect women, cultural relativism and feminism, and legislative advocacy projects currently being undertaken by numerous women’s rights organizations throughout the Arab World.  The workshop also focused on a recent expert meeting held under the auspices of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which discussed Arab countries’ reservations to the Convention, and ways of reconciling CEDAW and Muslim personal status law.

Mr. Saed Hamid, a legal consultant and board member of Mashriqiyat, led the 3-day training workshop, with presentations also given by Lina Meari, an M.A. student in Bir Zeit University’s Women's Studies Program, and Ms. Rouhana.  Ms. Rouhana discussed her research on “Appointing Women as Qadis.”  The 24 participants represented Palestinian women’s organizations in Israel, and Adalah and HRA staff.  The participants acknowledged a need to continue this type of dialogue, to best develop strategies for personal status issues of Palestinian women before religious courts in Israel. 

During their stay in Gaza, the participants also toured Al Shabora, Yubna, Al Shatea, and Al Serat refugee camps, met with the camps’ committees, and saw the Israeli Jewish settlements that divide the cities of the Gaza Strip. 

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