Nafeesa Al Deek – Palestine

She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.

Nafeesa al-Deek: 1940, Kufr Ne’meh village near Ramallah. Grassroots leader and political figure who spent her life for others. She was able to bring services to her village and surrounding areas that led to her house being used as a center for rehabilitation and teaching, sewing, knitting, embroidery and cooking for local women. As a political activist, she was detained by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) twice in 1981 and in 1993 she was put on military trial. She overcame illiteracy by convincing an NGO to open up adult-literacy classes in her village in 1981. She raised money to develop the girls’ school in her village in 1986 and convinced her village residents of the importance of teaching their girls. Nominated for the Noble Peace Prize 2005. (on Arab Thought Forum – see their homepage).

She says: “The three divine religions honor human beings. Injustice is not a matter of religious conflict; all I seek to achieve is equal rights for all people”. (1000peacewomen).


Nafeesa Al Deek – Palestine

She works for the Kafr Ne’meh Women Society KNWS (no internet presence found).

Sorry, beside the text on Arab Thoughr Forum, no other internet presence found for our peacewomen, Nafeesa Al Deek, Palestine (the price for being too much modest).

I could get only the text found on 1000peacewomen: Nafeesa Al Deek was born in 1940. Like many other women in her village, she was married to her cousin at the age of 16. While still pregnant with her third child, her husband walked out on her and immigrated to Brazil, leaving her with a difficult responsibility of raising two sons. Shortly after he had left she gave birth and had a baby daughter. Al Deek had to work and support her family. But since she did not have sufficient educational qualifications she became a seamstress.

Despite these challenging circumstances, she managed to secure a house for her family and to educate her children well. Um Hani, as people call her, began teaching sewing to young girls and women. However, she felt that if she had been educated, she could have done a better job. That is why she strongly supports girls’ education to secure themselves against the hazards of life. Al Deek is said to have learned many of the chapters of the Holy Quran by heart after overhearing the students reciting them. She decided to defeat her illiteracy by enrolling in one of literacy evening classes that were run by the local associations that she has helped to found. Now she is fond of reading celebrated classical poems by Jubran khaleel Jubran and Nizar Kabbani.

Known for her spontaneity and intelligence, Nafeesa Al Deek participated in many demonstrations against the occupation. She recollects one of the incidents where she was arrested by Israeli forces, and says, “I was arrested at the age of 40 when I started going to adult-literacy classes. The interrogator asked me why I wanted to study at this age. I responded to him, ‘Jesus says: learn from birth to tomb.’ I have raised my children to love Palestine, and I am so proud of what I have achieved. They beat me up, but I never felt down. I used my wittiness to get myself out of the difficult circumstances.”

With the aid of a German association, she orchestrated a group of women from her village to found the first women’s association to teach women sewing, needlework and cooking. This project helped many women to generate new work skills and to be self-dependent, a very demanding issue after the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967. The association employed hundreds of women from Kufr Nime and the surrounding villages.

Um Hani is considered a source of inspiration for her village, and therefore she has won the acclamation of all. She was involved in social and patriotic work since she was still young. She helped to accommodate the refugees who were forced to flee to her village from the coastal areas after the Israeli occupation of Gaza. “I have always felt that I am a soldier standing up for justice for my people, especially women and the less-privileged persons. I pledged myself to fight for women’s rights,” she said. During the 1970’s she wrote a number of patriotic poems about Palestine and encouraged her children to rehearse them. Um Hani has played a distinguished role in her community, and has been incessantly supportive to the education of young children.

Journalist and writer, Etaf Yousef, says about Umm Hani, “Her brother died as a martyr, and she is also an indefatigable fighter. She has played a vital role during the Intifada (Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation): she sewed flags for young boys and girls to carry in the demonstrations and hid the Palestinian fighters from Israeli troops. She is not only the sister of a martyr, but she is someone who gave much more than what she had received. She is an astonishing and smart person who demonstrate an exceptional ability to tackle issues on politics and women’s affairs, despite her modest education.”

A representative from the Ministry of Youth and Sport described Um Hani, saying, “Um Hani is well-respected in her village. Her numerous contributions to the local community are unforgettable. She helped to found a nursery and sewing workshops that boosted the living conditions of many Palestinian families, and she is now head of the women’s association in the village. She has found her role in life though helping others in different ways and through breathing hope into their lives”. (on 1000peacewomen).

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