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Changing lives in the West Bank villages

The increasing economic poverty in villages outside Ramallah in the West Bank is leading to unexpected changes in gender roles and is challenging the tradition of early marriage. Jane Gabriel has been listening to those involved in making changes on the ground.

The increasing economic poverty in villages in the West Bank is leading to unexpected changes in gender roles and is challenging the tradition of early marriage.

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A few years ago, the Trust of Programs for Early Childhood, Family and Community Education, an NGO based in East Jerusalem, offered a course of lectures in the villages. The topics included women's rights, child raising and education. Women, some of whom had never left their houses before, went to listen. Today there is a network of 750 women in five villages and small teams of women who go door to door contacting women isolated inside their homes. The women work with both the local mayors and religious leaders to open discussion about topics that were formerly taboo subjects. Later this year the Trust has plans to start the men talking too. 

Jane Gabriel has been in the villages of Beit Bedo, Beit Anan and Beit Doqqu outside Ramallah, listening to those who are involved in the changes on the ground.

About the author

Jane Gabriel founded and edited the website openDemocracy 50.50 in 2007, publishing critical perspectives on social justice, gender and pluralism. The site was run as a feminist editorial collective until 2017 when Jane stepped down as editor. 50.50’s funders included Hivos, the Ford Foundation, the Barrow Cadbury Trust, the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, the Oak Foundation, The New Field Foundation and the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust.  Prior to joining openDemocracy, Jane produced and directed more than 30 documentaries for Channel 4 Television and the BBC international current affairs series Correspondent, winning the Royal Television Society award and the One World Media award for her work as a documentary director. In 1980’s she was a member of the UK's first all-women television production company, Broadside. In the 1970's she worked at Granada TV in the UK, and at Pacifica radio KPFA in the US. She is a qualified advocate for children in care, and a Trustee of the IF Project.

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