Hamas, Constitutionalism, and Palestinian Women

36 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2008

See all articles by Adrien K. Wing

Adrien K. Wing

University of Iowa - College of Law

Hisham A. Kassim

New York University


This is the first of two articles discussing the status of Palestinian women after the 2006 Hamas electoral victory. The other article is entitled The Future of Palestinian Women's Rights: Lessons from a Half-Century of Tunisian Progress, 64 Wash & Lee L. Rev. 1551 (2007). The unexpected parliamentary electoral victory by the Islamist party Hamas in January 2006 shocked the world. This article speculates about how one aspect of Palestinian society may change in the long term under a Hamas-dominated regime - women's rights. Since Hamas is an Islamic organization, it may incorporate Islamic Shari'a law into the Palestinian legal system more broadly than the previous more secular government led by the Fatah party. Part I describes selected aspects of the current legal status of Palestinian women in the areas of custom and religious practices. Part II examines the relevant constitutive documents as they relate to gender equality: The Basic Law of Palestine, and the draft constitution. Part III details the role of Hamas in the new Palestinian government and speculates briefly how Hamas' policies will influence Palestinian constitutionalism, including women's rights. The part provides an overview of Islamist movements in general and places Hamas within the wider spectrum of such movements across the Middle East. Then, it examines the history of Hamas as a political organization. Next, it explores Hamas' political position in part by looking at its Electoral Platform drafted for the fall 2005 campaign. Part IV provides some suggestions with respect to changing the Basic Law or the Draft Constitution to enhance women's rights. Due to the ongoing violence in the region, it is unlikely that these proposals will be considered at this time.

Keywords: Hamas, Palestine, constitutionalism, women's rights, human rights

JEL Classification: K10, K19, K30, K33, K39

Suggested Citation

Wing, Adrien Katherine and Kassim, Hisham A., Hamas, Constitutionalism, and Palestinian Women. U Iowa Legal Studies Research Paper No. 08-21, Howard Law Journal, Vol. 50, No. 2, 2007, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1130219

Adrien Katherine Wing (Contact Author)

University of Iowa - College of Law ( email )

410 blb
Iowa City, IA 52242
United States
319-335-9129 (Phone)
319-335-9098 (Fax)

Hisham A. Kassim

New York University ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

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