Macquarie University
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Contemporary Palestinian feminist organising: contesting NGO-ization and the rise of "alternative organising"

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posted on 2023-07-04, 04:44 authored by Farah Fayyad

This thesis explores the intricacies of local Palestinian feminist organising within the broader understanding of Palestinian local feminist knowledge, transnational feminism and the wider political economy. Historically grounded, this research tracks the evolution of the Palestinian feminist movement and its constituent organisations from its formal inauguration in 1929 to present day, but specifically focuses on the contemporary impact of the significant historical shift that occurred in 1993, namely the signing of the Oslo Accords, which led to the NGO-ization boom within Palestinian feminist organisations. In-depth interviews were conducted with current feminist organisation leaders that exposed the complexities and the nuances of how Palestinian feminists organise and mobilise against the backdrop of a militaristic Occupation. 

The feminist qualitative research, although exploratory in nature, unraveled some contextually-situated findings. It demonstrated that within the context of Palestinian feminist organising, feminist activists operate in a system of oppression which consists of various forces acting against women in an interlocking system, namely, the Occupation; and social, political and religious ideology. These forces have been, and continue to be, stifling to the organisational efforts of Palestinian women. The system of oppression demonstrates a uniquely historically and politically situated set of forces that are particular to the struggle of Palestinian feminists. The research also demonstrated that there are dominant and alternative forms of feminist organising currently present in the Palestinian feminist space. Palestinian feminist organising is not homogenous and represents nuanced forms of organising that can be explored through what I refer to as the “dominant-alternative spectrum”, which highlights that dominant and alternative forms of organising are not as “radical” in some cases and so they should not be categorised in a rigid, binary manner and that they appear to be alternative in relation to the existing, prevalent ways of organising. The overwhelming majority of Palestinian feminist organising are heavily NGO-ized; as a result of the Oslo Agreements, however, there are signs of alternative organising which have not yet been explored in the literature and may indicate some tidal shifts in the Palestinian feminist space. 

Palestinian feminist organising challenges existing literature in Organisation Studies; and unlocks a wealth of untapped knowledge on the "non-profit industrial complex" which operates as a part of the Neo-Imperialist Machine. 


Table of Contents

Chapter 1 - Introduction -- Chapter 2 - Palestine’s history and women’s movement juxtaposed -- Chapter 3 - Postcolonial feminism: theory, application and exclusion -- Chapter 4 - Research methodology -- Chapter 5 - A system of oppression -- Chapter 6 - Going against the grain -- Chapter 7 – Discussion and conclusion -- Appendix -- References

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD

Department, Centre or School

Department of Management

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Alison Pullen

Additional Supervisor 1

Jumana Bayeh


Copyright: The Author Copyright disclaimer:




290 pages