1st Edition

Gender and Political Support Women and Hamas in the Occupied Palestinian Territories

By Minna Cowper-Coles Copyright 2023
    252 Pages 30 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    252 Pages 30 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book finds and explores a gender gap in political support in the Occupied Palestinian Territories whereby more women than men support Hamas, and more men than women support Fatah.

    The author then shows how economic interests and religion largely explain this gender gap, and explores how the Israeli occupation, the Israel-Palestine conflict, women’s rights, nationalism, and political repression impact Palestinian political support. She demonstrates how religion interacts with nationalist discourses, which in turn reinforce differential gender roles in Palestine. She also shows how patronage impacts political support in a gendered way, with Fatah’s ability to provide employment opportunities being strongly linked to their support base amongst men. The book concludes with an analysis of similar trends in the wider Middle East, with women across the region tending to prefer religious parties, compared with men.

    While making an important contribution to studies of Palestinian politics, this book also has implications for much broader issues, such as explorations of gender and political support beyond the Western context and understanding widespread female support for Islamist parties in the Middle East. It highlights the importance of situating explorations of political support within their wider context so as to understand how particularities of ideologies, economies and social structures might interact in a specific political system.

    This book will be of great interest to students and scholars of gender studies, Middle East studies, and comparative politics. It will also appeal to those with a broader interest in Middle East politics and development.

    1. Introduction: The Gender Gap in Political Support in the Occupied Palestinian Territories

    2. The Political Context in Palestine

    3. Economy and Gender

    4. Belief, Ideology and Gender

    5. Political Violence and Gender: Occupation, Resistance, and Oppression

    6. Explaining the Gender Gap in Political Support

    7. Beyond Palestine

    8. Conclusion


    Minna Cowper-Coles is a Research Fellow at the Global Institute of Women’s Leadership at King’s College London, UK. She previously taught at Birkbeck College, University of London, UK, where she gained her PhD in 2018.

    ‘Cowper-Coles has written a fascinating and insightful book on the gender gap in Palestinian politics. Cowper-Coles finds that women are more likely to support Hamas and are more conservative on multiple issues. Why is this so? Using impressive quantitative data and original qualitative interviews, Cowper-Coles argues that the local political economy creates segmented gendered dis/advantages for women and men which in return shapes political loyalties.’

    Amaney A. Jamal, Edwards S. Sanford Professor of Politics and Director of the Bobst Center for Peace and Justice at Princeton University, USA

    ‘As Minna Cowper-Coles writes, research on women and gender in the Middle East has often been seen as unimportant to mainstream political science. Dr. Cowper-Coles makes an impressive addition to scholarly understanding of gendered patterns of political support. With a rich body of interview and survey data, Minna Cowper-Coles highlights the counterintuitive finding that Palestinian women are more likely than men to support HAMAS. Her work further explains why extant theories from the American context are inadequate for explaining the gender gap without an understanding of the role that the authoritarian and clientelistic context plays. I recommend this book for scholars and policymakers interested in comparative politics and the Arab world.’

    Lindsay J. Benstead, Assistant Professor of Political Science and Director of the Middle East Studies Center at Portland State University, USA

    ‘This book is the first systematic study of the gendered patterns in political support in Palestine, and offers an essential contribution to the field. Cowper-Coles presents remarkable, surprising, and crucially important findings. Not only is there a gender gap in Palestine, its direction challenges theorizing on the modern gender gap in the existing, largely Western-focused, literature. Why do women tend to support the Islamist Hamas more than men? Cowper-Coles offers answers that would be of great interest to scholars of gender in the Middle East, Islamist movements, and women and politics more broadly across the globe, as well as anyone intrigued by the fascinating tendencies of gendered politics in Palestine.’

    Lihi Ben Shitrit, Associate Professor of International Affairs at the University of Georgia, USA