Palestinian Women Take to Social Media to Get Back Their Names

Some lists for the now-postponed local elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip replaced the names of female candidates with 'wife of' or 'sister of.'

Palestinian Muslim women take their selfie photograph as they attend the Id al-Fitr prayer in Gaza City, Wednesday, July 6, 2016.
Khalil Hamra, AP

Palestinian women are taking to social media to protest the exclusion of the names of female candidates in campaign materials for local elections in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, according to a report in al-Monitor.

The elections were postponed by the Palestinian Supreme Court last week, but the protests have continued – and widened into other areas of Palestinian life, such as weddings.

The immediate cause of the outcry was the omission of women's names from some of the electoral lists, which replaced the names with "wife of" or "sister of."

One of the places where that happened was the village of Tammun, near Jenin, where Palestinians – both women and men – took to social media to express their anger. The Arabic hashtag they used – which translates into "Our names should not be covered" – soon went viral.

“Our names are not mere terms; our names refer to our identity,” rights activist Sumaya al-Mashharawi said in a statement.

That message was picked up by newspaper and television channels, coalescing into a campaign for greater female participation in public life.

“I think it's shameful that some people still believe that women’s names should be omitted," said Amal Habib, presenter of the "Beitna" women's show on the Hamas-run Al-Aqsa TV channel.

"I’m shocked at this culture and how it was embraced. Women should be called by their names out of respect and our names should not be hidden.”

Women's rights activists have taken to Facebook to make their case. “Our names are not mere terms; our names refer to our identity, which ignorant people do not understand,” wrote Sumaya al-Mashharawi.

Activist Diana Maghribi, a member of Filastiniyat Association, told Al-Monitor that the “Our names should not be covered” campaign is a call to all educated women to urge the patriarchal society to stop neglecting this powerful social driver.”