Twenty-six women from Gaza were able to participate in a conference about increasing women’s political participation which took place in the West Bank

Gisha submitted a request to the Israeli army’s Gaza District Coordination Office on behalf of 34 women who are members of the General Union of Palestinian Women, an umbrella organization which represents all Palestinian women’s organizations and works to increase women’s participation in all aspects of political, social and economic activity in the Palestinian territory. The women wanted to take part in a three-day conference in the West Bank, organized by UN Women. The conference was designed to discuss agreed upon priorities regarding women’s participation in public life in the Palestinian territory.

Finally, on December 10, we received permit approvals on behalf of 26 of the women. The other eight women’s requests were refused without explanation. Normally requests by unmarried individuals under the age of 35 to enter the West Bank are rejected without consideration due to concerns that the applicants would settle in the West Bank permanently, nonetheless we managed to secure permits for two women in the group in this position.

The day after the permit approvals were granted, the women traveled from Gaza Strip to the West Bank. One of the women told us afterwards that the conference was “enriching and horizon-expanding… Participating [in it] helped me make new contacts with organizations devoted to empowering women, exchange ideas and gain exposure to their activities. We will adopt some of the ideas that were brought up there and try to adjust them to fit the needs of women in Gaza”.