Bethlehem Municipal Council has a new mayor, Ms Vera George Mousa Baboun. Ms Baboun is head of a local school, a social worker and researcher in gender studies.
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Palestinian women look to Bethlehem where Vera Baboun is running for mayor
Ahram online, 14 October 2012
“Many people still believe the post of mayor is exclusively for men,” says Vera Baboun, aim to become the first female mayor of the Palestinian town of Bethlehem, and in the process shake up a society where men still make the laws and do the deals.
The university lecturer has a good chance of achieving the first goal in municipal elections being held across the West Bank on Oct. 20. She heads a bloc of 12 Muslims and Christians in Bethlehem representing the Fatah movement, which one recent survey found to command 49 percent support in the West Bank.
The municipal ballots are the first in the territory since 2005. In the ancient hilltop city just a few miles from Jerusalem, posters with the faces of six blocs of hopefuls cover nearly every lamp post and wall.
Baboun’s group promise to improve services and promote the tourism potential of the town where the Bible says Christ was born. “Women have abilities, vision and a unique way of bringing about change,” Baboun told Reuters.
For many residents, things can only improve after seven years in which the town’s workings were hobbled by a withdrawal of international aid after five members of the Islamist Hamas group were elected to the 15-member council in 2005.
Western donors feared their funds would be channelled to a group that refuses to recognise Israel’s right to exist, and that they consider a terrorist organisation. To their relief, Hamas is not standing in this month’s election.
For her part, Baboun, a mother of five, has no previous political experience.
But victory for someone who is head of a local school and a social worker in addition to her research in gender studies could mark a new departure for women in a community still run along patriarchal lines.
Vera Baboun, Researcher – Palestine, Gender Research in Africa into ICTs for Empowerment (GRACE)
Vera Baboun is a PhD Candidate at the English Literature Department, Betlehem University in Palestine.
Vera Baboun, an English literature instructor at Bethlehem University in Bethlehem / Palestine, also lectures in the Gender Module in the BU graduate MICAD program, and is a gender trainer in projects led by the Palestinian Women Research and Documentation Centre (UNESCO project). She is socially active in her Bethlehemite Palestinian community. She heads the Board of Directors of the Guidance and Training Centre for Family and Children (GTC/Mental Health Centre), and is the treasurer for the QADER Centre for Disability and Community Development. Ms. Baboun is currently working on her PhD on Arab-American Women’s Literature. She is highly active in advocating gender awareness where she lectures, and gives training on gender issues for a considerable number of social NGOs. Currently, she is supervising research on gender issues prevailing in the Palestinian context as part of a gender development project led by BADAEL centre in Ramallah.
2002 Bethlehem University Scholarship Recipients with Dean of students, Dr. Khader Musleh, and Assistant Dean, Ms. Vera Baboun
Bethlehem Municipality Council Members
Ms.Vera George Mousa Baboun Mayor
Issam William Elias Juha Deputy Mayor
Mr.Ahmad Ibrahim Khalil Kamal Council member
Adv.Anton George Anton Salman Council member
Mr.George Yousef Salim Hazboun Council member
Mrs.Hayat Mohammad Khalil Nawawreh Council member
Mr.Khalil Mohammad Mosallam Moti Council member
Adv.Rock Alfred Rock Rock Council member
Mrs.Rula Khalil Mohammad Shweiki Council member
Eng.Sami Geries Anton Murra Council member
Mr.Awad Ibrahim Jadallah Shokeh Council member
Mr.Maher Nicola Michael Qanawati Council member
Mr.Nader Adnan Abdalfattah Yousef Council member
Mr.Nader Yousef Mousa Azizeh Council member
Mr.Walid Daoud Ahmad Jawarish Council member
Bethlehem Municipality Council
Visitor Information Center (sic), Bethlehem