Palästina: Yusra Berberi

The political situation today reminds me of the world fifty years ago.

— Yusra Berberi

Born in 1923 in Gaza, Palestine, Yusra Berbari began a successful teaching career. Raised in a scholarly renowned family, she was educated at the Schmidt School in Jerusalem. Yusra speaks three foreign languages beside her Arabic mother tongue and is the first women in the Gaza Strip to hold an accademic degree, a BA in Social Sciences which she received from Cairo University in 1949. She is now the head of the Palestinian Women’s Union (PWU) in Gaza.

Yusra Berbari played a crucial role in social, political and educational activities in the Gaza Strip. After graduation, she began a teaching career and later became the headmistress of the only girls’ preparatory school in Gaza, where she set up a teacher training program for women, which evolved into an Institute for women teachers. Yusra headed the women’s branch of the Gaza Open University, was the only women in the Palestinian delegation to the UN in 1963 and one of the few women members of the Palestinian National Council (PNC) in 1964. Since 1964, she has been the head of the Palestinian Women's Union (PWU) in the Gaza Strip and she helped to found ten illiteracy-fighting centers. Since 1972, Yusra has been a member of the board of directors of the Red Crescent Society, and she has continued to provide assistance to the needy and the families of Palestinian detainees and politically activist prisoners. An an active participant in non-violent resistance against the Israeli occupation, joining demonstrations and sit-ins and preparing memorandums on national issues, Yusra also participated in the first committee of the new women’s movement in 1978. She was tried before an Israeli court on the claim that she organized sewing classes and ran English language teaching sessions, activities that the court ruled to be provocative against the Israeli occupation. The court verdict was to ban her from traveling for a number of years. Yusra is a dedicated and self-motivated person, with a distinguished record of educational and nationalist achievements. At a young age, she launched a fund raising appeal to collect money for the wounded Palestinians, and she worked with the Red Crescent Society during the Second World War. In 1948, she gave aid and shelter to Palestinian refugees. Later, she became a member of the National Rehabilitation Society for the disabled in Gaza.

Palestinian Women’s Union (PWU)