Mar 8 - Women in the Palestinian territories and Israel discuss the role of women in society and politics on International Women's Day. Simon Hanna reports.
Hanin Zoabi, the only female Arab member of Israel's Knesset, is calling for a greater female influence in politics. Speaking ahead of International Women's Day on March 8th, Zoabi said a feminine perspective is what the world needs. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) MEMBER KNESSET HANIN ZOABI: "I'm speaking about a feminine view of politics, a view that believes more in justice and equality. And when we say a feminine view it can come from a man also, not only from women. So when we say women must enter the political sphere, this is her right, but it also benefits the public and the community." One of Zoabi's main critics in the Knesset is Anastassia Michaeli, a politician who has become known for her temper and attacks on Arab Knesset members. The 36-year-old mother of eight says she sees the state of women in Israel as relatively good. (SOUNDBITE) (Hebrew) ISRAELI LAWMAKER ANASTASSIA MICHAELI: "Most of the women in the Knesset actually represent the saying that women have options and have achievements, it's a matter of will." In the Palestinian territories - where International Women's Day has been declared a national holiday - women are suffering under occupation or embargo from Israel. In the blockaded Gaza Strip, Minister of Women's Affairs Jamila Al-Shanti said that due to these challenges all Palestinian women are heroes. Many have lost husbands and sons and their courage, she says, has been an example for women worldwide to follow. In the West Bank, meanwhile, PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi said the women's movement here has been breaking barriers and spreading to all classes and areas. Simon Hanna, Reuters.