In Her Own Words: Women Scientists In Palestine Speak Out About Conducting Science Under Occupation

500 Women Scientists
2 min readJan 27, 2022

Last year, in celebration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People (29 November), we, at 500 Women Scientists, heard directly from Palestinian women scientists, living in occupied territories and beyond, about what it means to conduct science under occupation. (Read the interview series here: Dr. Elham Kateeb, Dr. Joman Natsheh, Dr. Yara Saifi and Dr. Maha Samman.)

Ahead of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on 11 February 2022, we — Palestinian scientists and members of the 500 Women Scientists collective — called attention to the continuing plight of women trying to do research in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in Nature Correspondence.

As scientists, we cannot selectively choose which crises to care about, and continue to overlook the plight of our fellow colleagues who are living in volatile regions. Immediate action is needed by members of the global scientific community, especially those in leadership positions, on several fronts, including:

Learning about what is going on in the world, especially in conflict zones: For example, you can learn about the injustices that Palestinians have faced and continue to face, through a number of resources and organizations, including the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, BADIL, B’Tselem, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, and the Jewish Voice for Peace. Keep in mind that there are many scientists across the world who face occupation and/or violence — the 2017 Science in Exile documentary, produced by the World Academy of Sciences, shares how violence in Syria, Yemen and Iraq threatened the lives of four researchers.

Volunteer your time and skills to help support at-risk scientists through mentoring, collaborations and partnerships: Scientists across academic institutions and scientific societies can take a number of actions, including establishing scholarship and fellowship schemes, creating new grant programs for women scientists living in conflict zones, and implementing mentoring or support programmes for early-career, at-risk and displaced scientists living in volatile regions.

Spearheading institutional efforts to better support scientists living in conflict zones: Institutions can appeal to their governments to take action to secure the lives and careers of scientists and students. Examples include the Global Young Academy’s Strategic Project — At-Risk Scholars Initiative and the Three Circles of Alemat mentoring program. (Note: the International Science Council has convened a Science In Exile project, which is currently mapping organisations which provide support to and opportunities for at-risk, displaced, and refugee scientists.)

As scientists who identify as women, we understand the resilience and perseverance that is required to conduct research in such conditions, and commend these women on their dedication to science. We hope the resources provided in this post can help empower further allyship and support to all the women facing these hardships.

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