Palestinians Lana Nazeeh and Umm Samer discuss the role of social media in their work

Palestinian women are engaging with social media for business, discussion and advocacy.

In the small West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, south west of Ramallah, housewife and activist Manal Tamimi photographs soldiers using her mobile phone as she dodges teargas canisters, before tweeting them to the world. In a kitchen at the other side of the village, baker Umm Samer posts pictures of her produce on Facebook to sell them and make a living.

Palestinian women have taken social media by storm: using it for advocacy, women’s rights, marketing their products, or as a tool to voice their opinions, which would otherwise remain veiled due to social, cultural and traditional restraints.

BBC Media Action has made a point of integrating social media into its project in the Palestinian Territories. Our participatory, audience-driven debate programmes Hur Al Kalam (‘Free Speech’), and Aswat Min Filisteen (‘Voices from Palestine’) provide people, (particularly disenfranchised youth), with multimedia platforms (radio, television and online) where they can debate the political and social issues with key decision-makers and hold them to account.

Facebook and Twitter

Our social media team is working hand in hand with the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation to develop the station’s Facebook page, and we are creating social media guidelines for the station, as well as using social media for production. Over the past six months Palestine TV’s Facebook page has seen rising numbers of fans and increasingly professional content.

An objective of the social media team is to engage more women in the debates and issues raised. Before BBC Media Action’s involvement, the majority of the visitors to Palestine TV’s web pages and Facebook page were men. Since our partnership started, we have noticed an increase in the number of women engaging, especially when our programmes raise issues such as marriage and the health sector.

Our research officer Al’a Radi helps to test whether the programmes will be relevant to women. “When choosing the topics we want to use in the shows, we ensure that Palestine TV, along with our research team, conducts research about the chosen topics with relevant women’s organisations and experts,” she said.

In the past year Palestinian women have become a recognisable presence on Twitter – mainly focusing on political activism and advocacy. Female activists have built networks inside and outside Palestine to support each other and have created social media campaigns to tie in with actions on the ground.

Palestine TV already covers topics that interest women; our project manager Raed Sadeq says BBC Media Action wants to involve women in all aspects of the production, “We have the flexibility in our programmes to cover women’s issues,” she says, “but we go further, by having female politicians and experts as part of the panel and present in the audience, whatever topic or issue we raise.”

A version of this blog first appeared on the Southbank Centre blog as part of the Women of the World (WOW) festival in March 2013.

Ashira Ramadan spoke at WOW 2013 as part of WOW Bites – a series of bite-sized talks.

Related links

BBC Media Action's work in the Palestinian Territories

Go back to BBC Media Action

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