First All-Female-List for City Parliament Election in the West Bank

It was the first municipal election in 36 years in Hebron, and this is not the only remarkable fact. For the first time ever, a list of eleven women, with a number of different backgrounds including journalism, engineering or business ran for the City Parliament of the Western Bank Town.
Hebron is still considered to be one of the most conservative Palestinian cities and hence strongly dominated by men and male clans – allegedly even more than the rest of Palestinian society. In this context, presenting an all-female list of candidates is an act of courage, to say the least. Accordingly it has gained the attention of local and international media but also attracted criticism from religious conservatives. The Palestinian journalist and feminist Maysoun Qawasmi lead the list despite the fact she was often advised to better stay at home rather than getting involved in politics.
It must be note thought that the Palestinian Legislative Council has included a quota system which requires a minimum amount of women to hold political positions. Most of parties therefore include a certain number of women on their election lists but expect them, once elected, to follow the decisions or directives of male leaders. This is one of the many reasons why women felt they needed their own specific list. Qawasmi specifically hoped to win a few seats in order to strengthen women’s voices in Palestinian government and society. But unfortunately her list didn’t get enough votes for a single seat. Instead a party backed by the Fatah movement won most of the council votes and the party will continue to select a required number of women for some positions to comply with the quota law.
Despite this defeat, Qawasmi also won in some respect: she has increased Hebron women’s political legitimacy through her presence.