Library of Congress, Prints & Photos Division [matpc 15738]
Women of Jerusalem: Celebrating International Women’s Day
This International Women’s Day, Jerusalem Story introduces you to eight Palestinian Jerusalemite women, past and present, who have rocked their city and their community in the fields of medicine, art, media, social service, and activism.
A prominent Palestinian feminist who founded several women’s movements and charities, including the Arab Women’s Society of Jerusalem in 1929. She began participating in and recruiting other women to join organized protests, demonstrations, and public strikes against British policies as a teenager in the early 1920s and continued political activism and organizing until her death.
Zulaykha was formative in the creation of the General Union of Palestinian Women and oversaw its first congress in 1965 in Jerusalem. After Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967, she was one of the first leaders to be deported at age 64.
HIND TAHER AL-HUSSEINI
A formidable figure who dedicated her life to the care of orphans, education of girls and women, preservation of Palestinian culture, and social service during a time of cataclysmic trauma and upheaval in the history of the Palestinian people.
Hind founded the Dar al-Tifl al-Arabi charity for orphaned and needy children in Sheikh Jarrah, which went on to become a prestigious girls’ school. She also established the Hind al-Husseini College for Girls, and cofounded the Women’s Cooperation Society in Jerusalem, which sprouted 22 branches throughout Palestine.
Born in Jerusalem, Fatima was among the first professional women to work in the media in the Arab world and the first Palestinian woman radio broadcaster. She was a fearless trailblazer at a time when it was not socially acceptable for women to work in media. Her voice became very familiar on the “Huna al-Quds” (Here Is Jerusalem) radio program.
Founded and directed an emergency medical clinic in response to the needs of Palestinian refugees during the 1948 War. Georgette successfully mobilized doctors to volunteer and funders to support what eventually became the Infant Welfare Center, which was the first medical center in the Old City of Jerusalem. Since its establishment, at least 50,000 children have benefited from medical services offered by the center.
JUMANA EL HUSSEINI
Born in Jerusalem, Jumana was a painter and sculptor who dedicated most of her career to painting Jerusalem, the city of her birth, from which her family was exiled in 1947, although they had been in the city since the 13th century.
Her work was exhibited over four decades in the Middle East, Europe, North America, Asia, and beyond. Her works are found in numerous private collections around the world.
Born in Jerusalem, Zahira, now retired, has been at the vanguard of the Palestinian women’s movement and fighting for gender equality since she was a teenager. During the 1970s–80s, she was an early pioneer organizing grassroots Women’s Action Committees that became volunteer networks in many communities.
She was the first-ever female leader of a Palestinian political party (Palestinian Democratic Union Party).
In 1996, she ran for the Palestinian Legislative Council as a representative from Jerusalem.
In 2003, she became the first Minister of Women’s Affairs in the Palestinian Authority. She also helped establish and lead important Jerusalem-based organizations serving women, such as the Women’s Studies Center (1989) and the Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counseling (1990).
SHIREEN ABU AKLEH
Born in Jerusalem, Shireen was an iconic TV journalist who joined the Al Jazeera Arabic office in the West Bank in its infancy in 1997 and helped launch and establish it until her untimely death. She was a fearless reporter dedicated to getting the story from the ground, including oftentimes from active war zones.
In May 2022, Shireen was targeted and killed by an Israeli sniper while on assignment and wearing a press vest in Jenin. Her funeral in Jerusalem drew tens of thousands of mourners, as she was widely beloved and respected by all.
Born in Jerusalem, Palestinian journalist and activist Muna El-Kurd fiercely protests and reports on Israel’s campaign to expel Palestinians from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, where her family has lived for three generations. Her family has long been threatened with expulsion by Jewish settlers, who forcibly seized part of the family home in 2009.
Muna was named in the Time 100 list of most influential people in 2021, alongside her twin brother, Mohammed.