The Institute of Women’s Studies at Birzeit University
Founded in 1994 the Women’s Studies Institute (WSI) at Birzeit University is among the first academic centers for the study of gender founded in the Middle East region as a whole. Evolving from a long history of Palestinian women’s activism, the Institute provides an academic underpinning to activism and debates around women’s rights, gender relations and social policy in the local and regional context. Through its wide-ranging research projects, inter-disciplinary academic programs and long-term engagement in community and policy level outreach, the Institute has become recognized as an established center for scholarship on gender that bridges between local needs, regional concerns and global debates.
The Institute is the recognized leader in terms of its academic programs; founding the first-degree program in gender studies (the MA in Gender and Development) in the MENA region and as of 2014 is delivering the first undergraduate minor in women’s studies in the region. Through both teaching and research programs it has built sustainable competencies in gender aware research across a variety of disciplines, as well as produced a critical body of scholarly and policy research covering the diverse dimensions of gender relations in the Palestinian context. Simultaneously, the Institute continues to play an active role as part of initiatives within Palestinian civil society, in struggles for gender and social equity, as well as national rights.