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Gaza Girls

This program is dedicated to 2004 Young Leader Bessan Abuelaish from Gaza, who was tragically killed. Her bright light shines on through the next generation of courageous women living in Gaza. Read more about Bessan and her legacy below.

“This program gave me a safe space to share things I’ve never talked about before.” – Gaza Girl, age 25

We recognize the harsh circumstances in Gaza make the situation especially challenging. That’s why we created an innovative program in 2019 to connect young women living in Gaza with the outside world, overcoming the limitations of travel and opportunity they face every day.

  • Connect virtually for 10 weeks with Palestinian peers in the West Bank and 48-Arabs
  • Join a safe space to build understanding, gain confidence, and inspire action
  • Find strength in peer-to-peer support network
  • Gain leadership, compassionate listening, authentic speaking, and emotional resiliency skills
  • Learn from the guidance and expertise of experienced and inspiring Palestinian facilitators
  • Interact and share personal stories and histories with teenage peers in New Mexico, USA participating in our Peace Ambassador program

It gives me so much power and hope to realize that despite our distance and differences, we can open up to each other and take a chance to be truly human. – Gaza Girl, age 22

Gaza is home to a population of approximately 2.1 million people, including almost 1.5 million Palestinian refugees. Israel and Egypt have maintained a blockade over Gaza since Hamas took control of the territory in 2007.

Program Information

Online Application

Applications for the 2022 Gaza Girls program are now closed.

If you have any questions, please email [email protected]

Program Dates

The first session will be held on May 12, 2022, and include 10 virtual weekly meetings with Palestinian peers. Two special cultural exchanges with young women in the United States will be held in the month of June, dates TBD.

Participant Criteria

Palestinian women, including Palestinians living in Gaza, the West Bank, and Arabs from 48, between the ages of 18-27, who are passionate about social change and peacemaking and who are interested in connecting with their peers to make a positive impact in their communities and the world.

In 2004, Bessan Abuelaish, a 15-year-old from Gaza, came to our camp in New Mexico. Despite the many hardships she had faced during her young life, Bessan refused to give up hope for peace. Five years later, Bessan was tragically killed in the fighting between Israel and Gaza, along with her two sisters and a cousin.

Bessan’s (1988-2009) memory lives on through her father Izzeldin Abuelaish, a medical doctor who worked in Israeli hospitals, and who published a book in remembrance of her called I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey on the Road to Peace and Human Dignity. Tomorrow’s Women co-founder and filmmaker Debra Sugerman created the documentary film Broken as a tribute to her legacy as a peacemaker. The Gaza Girls program is dedicated to Bessan and all those affected by war and violence.

Image: Malak Mattar