The Struggle of Palestinian Refugee Women in Lebanon

By Maha Abadi
Submitted to Session S6704 (CUMES Undergraduate Research Poster Presentation, 2021 Annual Meeting
The historical background in the first section of this research explains how Zionist colonialism caused Palestinians to seek refuge in neighboring countries, including Lebanon, since 1948. The first section also tackles the Lebanese laws that deprive Palestinian refugees of their basic civil rights, along with the social and political discriminations they face. Palestinian refugee women have been a steady subject of research in the social sciences. However, almost no research addresses the ways in which the intersectionality of their identity shapes their life chances and affects their lived experiences. The life chances of Palestinian refugee women living in Lebanon are shaped simultaneously by their gender, social class, political affiliation, and refugee status. Moroever, Palestinian refugee women are never represented as human beings with hopes and dreams. Instead, research tends to portray refugee women only as victims. In this sense, they are dehumanized and objectified. In this research, I hope to document the human stories beyond victimhood. My examination of the lives of Palestinian refugee women in Lebanon applies the concept and theory of Neopatriarchy coined by the Palestinian sociologist Hisham Sharabi, the concept and theory of Life Chances as devised by Max Weber, and the notion and theory of intersectionality as discussed by feminists K. Crenshaw and P. Hill-Collins. This examination aims at presenting their lives as a complex web shaped by several intersecting variables. Their identity components like refugee status, gender, and class intersect creating their unique experience. I chose qualitative methods for this research in order to achieve reliable documentation that comes close to reflecting reality. I conducted ten one-on-one interviews for the purpose of asking seven questions in each interview. My questions addressed the following topics: happiness, hopes and dreams, struggles and life challenges, incidents of injustices, and romantic life of the participating women.