For those who go to the polls on Oct. 8 for Palestinian elections, it will not be easy to vote for women candidates in West Bank and Gaza municipal councils. That is, unless the Electoral Commission actually steps in to stop the mockery that is taking place.
Many local lists, nominally independent but actually linked to some of the main political parties, have chosen not to publish the names of women candidates, regardless of what the law provides for the election; in fact, candidates must be fully identified by name, age and address. Instead of their actual names, they are identified as “wife of…” or “sister of…” They are identifiable only through their closest male relatives. They won’t be recognized even by their image on election posters because it is already, or will be, replaced with a flower or a dove.
A woman glorified during the Intifada, identified by name and surname as a “martyr” and displayed on posters around the city, must be, according to the leaders of these “independent” lists, anonymous and faceless while alive and taking active part in public life. In the face of this, the two biggest parties, Fatah and the Islamist movement Hamas, remain silent. And with them, the Palestinian National Authority and its President Abu Mazen, who nevertheless have passed laws and signed international treaties against gender discrimination.