Israel: Nabila Espanioly

No one can relieve your itchy back like the scratch of your fingers. – Don't accept the role of the victim. Take active measures to change things for the better. Use your strength!

— Nabila Espanioly

Nabila Espanioly, an active Palestinian feminist and clinical psychologist, was born to a Catholic family in Nazareth in 1955. For more than three decades, Espanioly has energetically campaigned to protect the civil rights of the Palestinian minority in Israel, to promote peace between Israel and Palestine on the basis of the two-state solution and to establish equal rights for women. In 2003, she shared the international Aachen Peace Prize with the Jewish-Israeli historian and peace activist Reuven Moskowitz, in recognition of her efforts to promote peace in the Middle East.

Since the '80s, Nabila Espanioly has been politically active, not just as a Palestinian but as a feminist. She says, "Female Palestinians in Israel are subjected to three kinds of discrimination: as members of the Palestinian minority, as women in Israel and as women in conservative Palestinian society." Today, she works alongside Jewish and Palestinian women to combat violence against women and to promote equal labor rights. Together with the international organization "Women in Black" (WiB) and the Israeli-Palestinian "Coalition of Women for Just Peace" (CWfJP), Espanioly coordinates campaigns against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and organizes aid convoys for the areas cut off from the outside world. For Nabila Espanioly, peace policy, the promotion of women and children’s education are indispensable. She says, "The Palestinian population in Israel does not have equal rights and is exposed to a growing discrimination in all spheres of life. Especially Palestinian women come last in Israel when it comes to job opportunities. Since the expulsion in 1948 and the expropriations in subsequent years, the traditional jobs in agriculture no longer exist. Since the landless Palestinian men are now predominantly employed as unskilled workers in low-income jobs, it is essential that women also seek employment. Yet, nursery places are also lacking. While 95.4 percent of the Jewish children go to nursery, such places are only available for 36 percent of the Palestinian children. The children's books and toys issued by the Israeli Ministry of Education are based on Jewish living conditions and do not take into account the language and cultural heritage of the Palestinians." For Espanioly the strengthening of a Palestinian identity is therefore an absolutely essential foundation of a multi-cultural society in Israel.

Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel (Mossawa) The Feminist Center in Haifa (FCiH) Jewish-Arabic Women for Peace (JAWfP)