Palestinian Women’s Voices Matter 2020
The visit began in London with an induction session at Café Palestina, visits to Camden women’s centres and a short introduction to London. A cooking session at Café Palestina which worked as a cookery lesson for others was particularly memorable. The group then split into small groups, travelling to the following towns where they met women from Palestine groups, women’s centres and other organisations and contributed: Truro, Salisbury, Worcester, Reading, Hastings, Chichester, Whitstable and Bradford.
CADFA had made a handbook, a handout for meetings and the visitors had prepared presentations. Talking, cooking together, visiting and comparing built strong interest on both sides. There were many public events – some were International Women’s Day Events for women in particular butmany of them were mixed. There were many useful exchanges in small and large meetings and an acknowledgement of how much people had learned. There were some reports of the visit in local papers. The outcomes were much optimism and plans for new groups, new partnerships and future activities.
The women regrouped in London for a number of final events. These included a Palestinian Voices Matter walk/demo going into the middle of London where the Palestinian women spoke on the stage at Trafalgar Sq in the Million Women Rise IWD event; talks at SOAS, at Crossroads Women’s Centre,a media workshop and a really lovely International Women’s Day event at Café Palestina with memorable contributions from the UK too, and from Basma (Palestinian via Lebanon) as well as from our women friends.
Evaluations from the Palestinian women included
“It was important… It was good to share international women’s day with women there… I learned to express myself and describe the situation in Palestine… I found the women there to be active and serious…”
And from the UK:
“There were lots of good points. Pre-comms were clear and the group arrived on time and in good form. The women were happy to be here and responded positively to everything they faced. The meetings went very well …(our event was) well attended. The women did an excellent job, presenting to audiences and informing them about life in Palestine. We gained support and made useful connections.”
“We really enjoyed having the women visitors with us and hearing their moving and brave accounts and their steadfast approach. They are lovely people. It would be good to know how they get on.”
The very end of the visit was difficult as Palestine took coronavirus seriously earlier than the UK and our friends rushed back, some worrying about whether they would get across the border to see their childrenand went back straight into quarantine. However, overall, the visit was extremely positive and led to strengthened links –online meetings between women in Britain and Palestine and plans for future links both cross-country and between CADFA and many new partners in the UK.