The Long Journey of Palestinian Refugee Women
Palestine / Jordan
In 2013, I produced a documentary in the Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan, West Bank and the Gaza Strip in partnership with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). The project ended with an exhibition at the French Institute in Amman named "The Long Journey of the Palestinian Refugee Women" during the "International Image Festival of Amman". The exhibition took place during the International Women's Day 2014 and was also presented in various refugee camps in the Gaza Strip.
Those photographs represent with dignity the lives of Palestinian refugee women and testify not only about their strength and courage, but also about the richness and resilience of their community. Facing displacement, violence, poverty and denial of basic rights since they were forced to leave their homes in 1948, women have been guardians of Palestinian collective memory and communal identity. Teachers, doctors, engineers, daughters, sisters, wifes and mothers have through their songs, their traditions, their skills and talents kept alive the collective memory of their refugee communities.
This exhibition that celebrated the contribution of Palestinian women to a rich culture that flourished despite the enormous obstacles encountered throughout their refugee journey should also reflect on the work which remains to be done. Even if UNRWA supports Palestinian refugee women through education and training, healthcare, community development and microfinance they still need the international community support for the specific needs of each refugee woman and girl ensuring their access to basic services and encourage their pursuit of new and greater opportunities.
I hope that these images show that although the Palestinian refugee women have retained pain in their life stories, they also continued to have hope and determination to build a healthy and productive future for the Palestinian people.