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MN marches for Palestinian women

By Andrew Josefchak

A large pro-Palestine march with people carrying banners and flags.

St. Paul, MN – On March 9, the Minnesota's Free Palestine Coalition organized a march to celebrate and stand in solidarity with Palestinian women on the day after International Women’s Day. The speakers and chanters were primarily Palestinian women, all of whom made connections between women’s liberation and an end to the Israeli genocide, occupation and apartheid.

4000 people attended the march, which took the streets and disrupted business as usual in Saint Paul’s Midway neighborhood. Demonstrators stopped to chant in front of a police precinct and marched past a highway exit, blocking traffic.

Sana Wazwaz, a leader in the Minnesota chapter of American Muslims for Palestine and the Free Palestine Coalition, denounced women leaders like Vice President Kamala Harris and Minnesota Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, who are touted as examples of “feminist leadership.” Wazwaz told the crowd, “Feminism is not slaughtering over 9000 Palestinian women. Feminism is not depriving women of menstrual care or making it so that they have to use tent fabric as hygiene products. Feminism is not forcing women to have C-sections without anesthesia to give birth to the sound of bombs.”

Palestinian women have been at the center of Palestinian resistance and have been disproportionately targeted by the Israeli apartheid regime. According to the UN, the genocide in Gaza has killed and injured Palestinian women in unprecedented numbers. Since October 7, 2023, more than 9000 Palestinian women have been killed in Gaza, and more than 100 have been arrested in the West Bank, Jerusalem, and the 1948 Occupied territories.

More than 25,000 out of 30,500 people killed in Gaza are women and children. Palestinian women pose a threat to the Israeli state’s demographic anxieties and have been subjected to forced starvation, imprisonment, killing, maiming and sexual assault by the Israeli military.

Since October, over 20,000 pregnant women in Gaza have given birth under genocidal conditions and without food, electricity, fuel and shelter, let alone pre- and post-natal care. In the absence of medical care, and with almost all hospitals in Gaza demolished, caesarian operations take place without anesthesia or pain killers. As Wazwaz pointed out, pregnant women are forced to give birth in unsterile conditions, and women and girls do not have access to feminine hygiene products. Even before October 7, pregnant women were frequently forced to give birth while waiting in long lines at checkpoints on their way to the hospital.

Israel and the Western media have made widespread allegations of the rape of Israeli women by Hamas on October 7 in order to legitimize its genocide and to detain and torture Palestinian men, portraying Palestinian women as helpless victims in need of rescue from Palestinian men. Similarly, imperialist countries regularly engage in “pinkwashing,” claiming to liberate queer Palestinians while committing genocide against them and their families. Reports of IDF soldiers sexually assaulting Palestinian women, both before and after October 7, have not received the same attention.

Wazwaz concluded, “This is the cost of this ridiculous disgrace to feminism. It is not feminism. It is imperialism. It is genocide. What real feminism is is what we have right here with the Palestinians of the diaspora and at home, who have been resisting every day with the most innovative and creative means.”

The demonstration ended with an Arabic chant demanding the right of return, the chorus of which means “I will return, I will return.”

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