Women Journalists stressed the urgent need to ensure protection for Palestinian women journalists, and take further measures to seek redress and rehabilitation for those who face psychological and social assaults.
Women journalists also addressed the need to expose all Israeli violations against Palestinian journalists to the international community. Moreover, participants recommended forming a pressure force on decision makers to reform all current laws that hinder their journalistic with all the social challenges.
Such recommendations emerged during a meeting organized in Gaza, by MADA-The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms, on the occasion of the International Women’s day, as part of a series of activities organized by the MADA Center in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in cooperation with the Representative Office of Finland in Ramallah, to legally empower and raise awareness of Palestinian women journalists, especially in light of the doubled violations they are subjected to.
Dr. Ahmad Hammad kicked off the meeting, stressing the very difficult political and social circumstance, especially in recent years and the Palestinian political division, which increased the pace of media freedom violations.
Dr. Hammad also stated that” media freedom violations are escalating, noting that, throughout 2017 MADA center monitored a total of 530 violations against Palestinian journalists, where the majority of violations were committed by Israeli parties”.
On the internal level, Dr. Hammad stressed the fact that internal violations by Palestinian different sides witnessed a worrying escalation due to the continued political division; as both males and females journalists were targeted and violated.
He pointed out that in this meeting, the Center tried to highlight the opportunities, experiences and challenges faced by Palestinian women journalists and to focus on providing treatments with the professional and legal expertise of the Center, with all the efforts exerted to end all kinds of discrimination against women in media institutions. And to take advantage of all their rights that enhance the role of women in Palestinian society.
Hammad called for the formation of a security belt for women journalists to protect them from arbitrary violations through legislation and fair laws enforcement on ground, especially last year witnessed a marked increase in the number of violations against media freedoms in Palestine compared to the previous year.
Journalist Majida al-Bilbisi who worked in the press for more than 20 years opened the first session. Mrs. Bilbisi was one of the first female journalists to prove themselves and their ability in this field stated that “There were many challenges that women faced when they joined journalism compared to now “pointing out that this has increased her determination to prove herself and achieve her aspirations”.
She also added “I continued working in this challenging field, with daily obstacles, but the most prominent was the internal political division which infringed journalists (Males females) from their rights”.
She added that “ the internal political division that lasted for more than 12 years deprived women journalists to enjoy their rights and hindered their abilities to receive the needed training in media outlet, sometimes, due to shutting down media outlets or its branches” she also hinted that these obstacles forced her to change her specialty and focus on other topics like environmental and humanities rather than political.
She illustrated that challenges facing the new generation of journalists are not comparable with challenges that faced the old generation, as technology in general, facilitate access to information easily.
On the other hand, journalist Safa’ Habeel, working at Palestine TV, clarified that since she worked in media, she faced many challenges including her family refusal to study journalism at first.
She also stated that after overcoming her family’s refusal she faced several challenges in the course of her work, particularly, in the field as this period coincided with Israeli assassination of Palestinian leaders and then the internal political division erupted. She also added, I started at first working at radio liberty and Alwan, after few years I moved to Palestine TV in political Affairs, where I faced one of the worst and gravest challenges, working in the field during the recent war on Gaza under the bombing especially for married women journalists, and those with kids.
On her part, journalist of Al- Risala newspaper Shayma’ Marzouq shared her experience in media work, and her expertise in investigative reports, stressing that she faced her family’s refusal to study and work in journalism.
She also clarified that any journalist regardless of their gender can overcome any obstacle through three ways; the first is to study and major in a field he is passionate about, where he can demonstrate his personality and have a fingerprint, second, to take time while conducting press reports as rushing in writing only leads to bad outputs, third, credibility and accuracy in information, and ensure respecting the ethics of their profession.
The journalist Safa’ Hassanat from Palestine Today TV agreed that women journalists in Palestine do face several special challenges particularly when it comes to starting their career and engaging in the field of journalism, stating the number of media outlets in Gaza Strip is small compared to the massive numbers of women journalists seeking opportunities to get their training and work in media outlets.
She also added that women journalists in Palestine they suffer from lack of support to strengthen their presence in the field of journalism, therefore, there is a need to strengthen the capacity of women journalists and support them in order to achieve their goals and ambitions, so women journalists lead. She also added women journalists in Gaza need of psychological sessions for the negative energy that they gain from working in the field of journalism on a daily basis”.
Despite all the challenges faced by these women journalists working in this field yet they managed to overcome and break the ice of some challenges and succeeded in obtaining several regional and international prizes, and no one expected them to.
The event moderator by Dr. Bassam Saed, it was attended by women journalists, CSOs, representatives, and lecturers of Universities in Gaza.