Palestine’s Women Head to College

Palestine Woman graduates
Palestinian students attend their graduation ceremony in Birzeit University near the West Bank town of Ramallah, Saturday, May 19, 2012. Image: Majdi Mohammed/AP

More women are earning degrees from Palestinian universities and outperforming their male counterparts—but what comes after graduation?

“You will be the builders of Palestine,” Vera Baboun said last week in her address to Bethlehem University’s graduating class of 2013. The majority of her listeners were women—three out of four of the students sitting in the colosseum-style stadium were female, and Baboun herself was in the process of completing a Ph.D. when she was elected as Bethlehem’s first female mayor last year.

Bethlehem University is hardly alone in its demographics—as part of a wider trend in the Arab world, Palestinian women are increasingly attending universities and earning diplomas in higher education. In the West Bank and Gaza, women are now graduating from universities at a higher rate than men and are outperforming their male peers at the high-school level . . .

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