As SWANA feminists we are united for the liberation of Palestine

As SWANA feminists we are united for the liberation of Palestine
6 min read
02 Nov, 2023
Statement: Western states & institutions are complicit in Israel’s attacks in Gaza which have killed thousands, write Yasmina Benslimane & a collective of MENA feminists. Gendered forms of violence facing women in Gaza must also be highlighted.
UN Women reports that close to 493,000 women and girls have been displaced from their homes in Gaza. [GETTY]

We, young feminists from Afghanistan, Algeria, Iran, Egypt, Morocco, Lebanon, Palestine, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, and other countries in South West Asia and North Africa (SWANA), unite in solidarity with Palestinians during Israel’s onslaught on Gaza and attacks on the West Bank. We understand the impact of colonialism, the weight of biases, the history of invasion, and the persistent influence of patriarchal structures and oppression. We stand united in our commitment to justice and equality and reject all colonial supremacist narratives if we are to advance gender equality.

We are deeply concerned about the current situation in Palestine, marked by apartheid, occupation, violence, genocide, collective punishment and ongoing war crimes including the deliberate targeting of civilians, schools UN shelters, journalists, hospitals, Churches and the use of white phosphorus by Israel in Gaza.

We demand immediate attention, accountability, and action from the global community, not only toward a ceasefire but a solution that addresses root causes and aspires for a sustainable peace. Israel’s crimes, including the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people, are carried out with the complicity of Western countries that claim to be human rights champions.

''Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, and it is our collective responsibility to stand against it. Solidarity is not just a word but a call to action, to support and amplify the voices of those who are oppressed.''

With all eyes on Gaza, land theft has also been growing in the West Bank. As of writing, more than 120 Palestinians were killed since the 7 October, arrests have risen, and new curfews which limit Palestinians’ mobility have been imposed by Israel, making normal life impossible.

Despite worldwide protests involving millions of people, governments of the US, Canada, Italy, France, Germany, the UK continue to be complicit in the ongoing genocide against the Palestinian people.

The US was the only member state to veto a UN Security Council resolution calling for immediate ceasefire. In addition, it has been providing billions of dollars in military funding to Israel. Germany banned protests in support of Palestine. Between 2018-22, Israel imported weapons totalling $2.7bn from both the US and Germany.

The European Union (EU) was no better as it responded to Israel’s attacks by freezing financial aid to Palestinians and failing to demand a ceasefire. Indeed, the same Western powers that champion “peace” continue to engage in active warmongering. For example, from 2015-19, EU member states supplied €682 million worth of arms to Israel. While these countries outwardly advocate for human rights, they persist in their pattern of exerting control, pilfering, and exploiting other nations.

The context in which Palestinians have been living for decades is deeply troubling. Apartheid practices and an unlawful occupation have persisted for far too long, as reported by organisations like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and B'Tselem. We cannot turn a blind eye to the gravity of this situation.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has previously opened an investigation on Palestine and highlighted the issue of war crimes by Israel, underscoring the need for justice. However, almost three years have passed since the Pre-Trial Chamber authorised the investigation, but no crucial progress has been made. It is important now, more than ever, to openly proceed with the investigations in order to ensure that justice is neither delayed nor denied.

We also call upon the ICC to consider additional investigations into new crimes against humanity following Israel’s recent attacks on Gaza. It remains an utter disappointment to witness the inevitable silence of the Office of the Prosecutor on the subject, and we call for a direct response to the demands for a ceasefire from civil society and feminist organisations.

In particular, we draw attention to the specific needs of Palestinian women in this dire context. These women face unique challenges, including issues related to maternal health, safety, and gender-based violence.

UN Women reports that close to 493,000 women and girls have been displaced from their homes in Gaza. The UNFPA estimates that around  1 in 4 are women and girls are of reproductive age, with 50,000 currently pregnant and 5,500 expected to deliver soon. Further reports circulating about women experiencing miscarriages, women undergoing c-sections without anaesthesia, others resorting to pills that delay their menstrual cycles while encountering challenges in accessing menstrual care.

We also call out those who remain silent or neutral in the face of this crisis. This includes UN agencies, national departments and ministries whose work relates directly to these issues, as well as relevant civil society organisations and non-governmental organisations. Women and young people need to be at the forefront of justice-seeking and peace-building efforts in this time.

Similarly, Western academia has failed to address the ongoing genocide committed by Israel against Palestinians.

Furthermore, given the role of technology and online platforms in shaping narratives. Meta, ChatGPT, and others must act responsibly, prevent the spread of disinformation, and refrain from engaging in censorship or shadowbanning, which can stifle essential discussions and advocacy.

The media’s influence and undeniable bias is also important to stress. There has been numerous cases of repression within the field, including three Muslim reporters were recently dismissed by MSNBC from covering news on the situation in Gaza. We urge platforms to amplify and humanise voices on the ground, report the truth and document the real horrors of occupation and its violence, as well as monitor content that fuels hate speech against Arabs, Muslims and Palestinians.

The struggle for liberation of the Palestinian people is a global issue. It has already created instability and hostility across the region and it shall further exacerbate the current socio-economic crisis and the strong mistrust between states and citizens around the world.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, and it is our collective responsibility to stand against it. Solidarity is not just a word but a call to action, to support and amplify the voices of those who are oppressed.

We echo the sentiments of many feminist organisations that have spoken out against Israel’s actions. We believe in the power of feminist solidarity and collective action to bring about transformational change. As young feminists from global majority countries in the SWANA region, we reiterate our commitment to justice and equality and call on the world to take action to end the suffering in Palestine and support the people's struggle for liberation and self-determination.

There is no peace without justice and no justice without return.

For 75 years Palestinians have been clear about their demands.

Palestinians need decolonisation.

Palestinians need liberation.

Palestinians need independence.

Palestinians need justice.

Palestinians need the world to know the truth.

Palestinians need you to denounce their oppressor: the illegal apartheid state of Israel.

It is our duty to support them in achieving this.

Yasmina Benslimane is a feminist activist, consultant, and women empowerment coach with a strong commitment to advancing gender equality and empowering women. She is the founder of Politics4Her, a non-profit organization that advocates for the inclusive participation of young women and girls in politics and leadership.

The article has been written exclusively for The New Arab by a collective of women but has been published under the name of one of its authors.

Have questions or comments? Email us at:

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.