On International Women's Day, I want to acknowledge two beautiful men in my life who supported me in becoming who I am today: my father, Professor Mohammed Shubair, and my husband Samih.
My father gave me and my siblings the freedom to choose what we wanted to be in life. Surprisingly, and unlike him, none of us chose any field of science for our vocation. In fact, we all went into the arts. I a writer, and despite the fact that some would consider this not a very lucrative profession (in a place where earning a living is a struggle), my dad encouraged me to follow where my heart led me.
Likewise, marrying at a young age and becoming a mother never stopped me from chasing my dream, pouring hours into my first book and seeing it published. And for that, I thank Samih.
To me, being a woman and a writer in Palestine and blockaded Gaza is an extraordinary experience that truly tested and shaped me. Palestinian women are among the most powerful women in the world. We have struggled to put food on the table, send our children to school and nurture a spirit of hope when ours has gone dry. We have been widowed at a young age, separated from sons and daughters in Israeli prisons, and deprived of vital health care necessary to stay strong for our families. But we are too stubborn to give up.
As a mother from Gaza, I wish my children could see what life outside Gaza looks like. I wish they could see their own homeland, Palestine—relieving me of their constant questions: "Mom, why can't we go to Jerusalem?" "Mom, do we live in Gaza or Palestine?" “Mom, why can’t we see those other countries we see on TV?”
As a writer from Gaza, I wish to tour the world to meet other writers and share the stories of my people. I want them to see that Palestinian mothers love their children and don't “raise them to die.” I want them to see the talented, young people of Gaza who have big dreams, only to have them crushed at the closed Egyptian and Israeli borders. I want to show the world that my people are just like humans everywhere, worthy of love, peace and justice.