In the region of the Gaza strip, the authorities, Hama, declared international women’s day a holiday. This included no work or school on the international holiday. However, while it was a progressive idea, that is all it remained: an idea. At the last minute, though, the Hamas authorities changed their minds.
Hamas are a Sunni-Islamic fundamentalist group that has had control in Gaza for years. The internationally backed and recognized group has slowly become more conservative in their politics; this time it affected an international holiday. Originally the Hama was going to respect the holiday but stated Sunday that they would no longer be acknowledging the day as a holiday. It was stated that while work will continue as normal, those attending school would experience a different day on international women’s day. Those attending school only attended classes for the first four hours and the material they covered in class was about influential women. While there were measures taken to include the international women’s day in Gaza, a step back was definitely taken when they canceled a holiday they had previously chosen to recognize, without stating a reason.
The Hama has become more conservative in recent years; actions towards women, in particular, have changed. According to the Associated Press “under the group’s rule, Gazan society has grown increasingly conservative, with Hamas imposing a dress code on female lawyers, principals harassing students who don’t wear headscarves and occasionally banning women from smoking in cafes.” This seems to be a step backward in the scale of progression, as women are finding themselves experiencing acts of oppression in 2017.
While it is easy to find these action oppressive, in comparison to other countries around the world they are progressive. For example, in Peru there was a general recognition of the international day, but there was not a break from school or work. The people of Gaza did continue to pay respect to the women in their country and around the world by discussing women’s role in Palestinian society. There are many steps to be taken in order to reach social equality and recognition for women. It is possible Gaza will be more prepared to take this progressive step in full stride in the near future, but for now, it was a bit more than their society could handle.
The battle for gender equality will be ongoing for many years to come. While the Hama authorities of the Gaza strip revoked their move to recognize international women’s day as a holiday, there was a point in which they did recognize the day as a holiday. The initial recognition displays a desire to move forward by societal means providing women an equal role in society. While we may not have seen the full effects of their desire for progression this year, we should keep our eyes peeled next year for the progression to fully manifest itself in the future.