Palestinian-Arab Communities: The Counseling Forum
The Counseling Forum for the Arabic Book, part of an editorial team of Palestinian women living in Israel and other Arab women across the region, developed Al Mara wa Kayanaha, an Arabic adaptation of “Our Bodies, Ourselves,” in 2011.
The Arabic adaptation is rare, in its research, scope and knowledge, and an invaluable addition to existing feminist literature for Arab women and girls. It has received tremendous support from women across the region, many of whom have shared their passion, experiences and expertise as artists, designers, writers and editors; and, as such, is a product of a journey that lasted many years – a journey that was inspired by OBOS’s story of bringing women together in a common struggle for social justice.
The book integrates the experiences of hundreds of Palestinian women – on the different and complicated issues affecting their lives, including their minority status and its impact on poverty, political/social marginalization and access to health care – along with a critical feminist vision that aims to secure legal and social justice for all. It provides Palestinian women an alternative space to understand and protect their health rights. It forces readers to effectively use available options and offers health care providers a holistic and comprehensive view into the reality of Palestinian women’s lives in Israel. The resource was published by Women and Their Bodies.
The OBOS Global Initiative has provided extensive support on this project, most notably with project start-up and envisioning, as well as fundraising and promotion. Post publication, OBOS continues to help increase access to this resource by posting excerpts on the OBOS website.
The Counseling Forum for the Arabic Book is an informal group of Palestinian women living in Israel, as well as other Arab women across the region, advancing the health and human rights of Arab communities within and beyond Israel, on their own steam and as part of larger organizations in the region. One of the project coordinators, for example, is a certified sex educator with extensive experience working with abused Arab women in Israel and researching the social, cultural and political implications of abuse. Others, central to the content development, review and editing process, have expertise in developing social welfare projects, sexuality education and training, and special education.
One of the represented organizations is Muntada - The Arab Forum for Sexuality, Education and Health. Created in 2006, Muntada responds to the health information needs of Palestinian women and girls, focusing on sexuality and reproductive health. Programs emphasize informed decision making in the community and trainings for providers working on sexuality and reproductive health.
A large team of nurses, doctors, photographers, artists, linguistic editors and interviewers have also brought their energy and passion to the project, ensuring the Arabic resource will have many secure bases for distribution, consciousness-raising and action.
Women and Their Bodies, which provided a publishing base for the Arabic resource, is also an agile responder, changing grassroots and institutional attitudes towards women's health, sexuality and reproductive needs.
Excerpts from El Mara wa Kayanaha are available at the Our Bodies Ourselves website and the website of Women and Their Bodies. For more information, contact Raghda Elnabilsy of the Counseling Forum for the Arabic Book at firstname.lastname@example.org.