Institute of Women's Studies
The Institute of Women`s Studies (IWS) at Birzeit University was established in 1994 as the first women’s studies program in Palestine, and one of the only two programs in the Arab world.
Since its establishment, IWS has offered different elective courses in women studies for undergraduate students. In 1998, it developed the Master’s Program of Gender and Development Studies as the first graduate program of its kind in the Arab region. Later, the institute started offering a minor program in women’s studies for undergraduate students.
Vision and Mission
Since its establishment as an interdisciplinary program, the Women Studies Program has been committed to teaching, researching, and gender- justice community outreach.
During the last decade, the institute has sought to realize its goals, which focused on: contributing to the development of local vision to the study of gender at both bachelor and master levels using an interdisciplinary approach; developing theoretical-analytical frameworks using critical gender-based methodologies and tools; and helping researchers to employ feminist analytical tools in analyzing the technologies of oppression and building transformatory tools.
The institute has also focused on supporting gender justice issues in the Palestinian society, within the colonial context, through academic research, in addition to engaging with feminist and social-political movements as a way to bridge the gap between theory and practice.
Programs and activities
The Institute of Women's Studies conducts research on the lived realities of Palestinian women, the dynamics of gender relations, and the constructions of femininity and masculinity in the Palestinian society. The research output is used to conceptualize and understand Palestinian women’s status, contribute to the process of social change and policy formulation and gender development planning, in addition to contributing to the development of the women's movement agenda.
The institute has published a wide variety of studies, working papers, and status reports, in addition to the annual “Review of Women’s Studies” that represents a wealth of original and timely research that advances understanding of gender issues in Palestinian society in a range of disciplines.
A community outreach program for gender justice issues through research and training for interested institutions, ministries and civil society as well as women organizations.
The institution's objectives
- Developing the field of women and gender studies to be more adequately able to tackle emerging questions pertaining to gender relations embedded in the social, economic and colonial structures characteristic of the Palestinian context;
- Developing theoretical and conceptual frameworks for gender analysis and contributing to local, regional and international debates on women and gender;
- Contributing to the development of political, developmental and feminist discourses that empowers the steadfastness of Palestinians within the colonial context;
- Contributing to the academic development of researchers who are capable of working in the field of development from a gender- justice based perspective;
- Developing critical and analytical thinking in social, political and economic gender related questions;
- Networking and cooperation with other departments at Birzeit University as well as other local, Arab and international universities, particularly in the South, to emphasize the importance of the plurality of knowledges and experiences in the field of gender studies, as well as the importance of exchanging knowledge among these academic institutions;
- Contributing to the transformation of BZU into a safe and just environment, and combating all forms of discrimination including gender- based discrimination;
- Establishing an expanded network of Palestinian women's institutions.
- IWS Library: The library offers core services supporting the teaching, learning and research needs of the Institute. It has become an essential source of knowledge as it holds approximately 11.000 books in total offering a specialist collection in the field of gender studies.
- Hala Atalla Scholarship Fund: Hala Atalla Fund was established in order to support female students coming from rural areas and underprivileged situations. The fund ensures that these students do not withdraw or drop out of the educational program as a result of the escalating social, economic and political conditions in Palestine.