Why are we doing a women*-only seminar and why do we see the importance of looking at cross border dialogues and conflict transformation also from a feminist lens? This topic we have been recently discussing in three publicwebinars with the coordinators of the women’s*seminar from Israel and Palestine. Here we would like to give you a glimpse of what has been said.“Usually, in political discourse it´s Israeli men and Palestinian men who determine the borders of the discourse about the occupation and about the political reality. Then you talk about the occupation, but there is no place to talk about gender. On the other hand, there are many feminists inside Israel who do not acknowledge the occupation and the wrongdoings against Palestinians. The women*seminar is for me a safe space where I know that none of these issues and complexities are things that interrupt us in our political discussions, but enrich it and allow us to think complexly about the situation. (…)What keeps me going is that young women do change what they are thinking just from these two short weeks of encounter. (…) In the seminar, for the fist time we are being asked as women what we have to say about the political reality. We ask OURSELVES, because usually we don’t even allow ourselves as women to even have a say in terms of politics because we always hear that we are not educated enough, we are not in the battlefield and there are always these voices silencing us, even inside our head. Voices who are saying “You probably don’t now enough, so we shouldn’t say or speak what’s in our mind.” And in the seminar, when we gather not only as Israelis and Palestinians, but also as women, also as women of color, as queer women as ethnic women – than you cannot look at the reality in an non-complex way, we are obliged to look for a just solution for this place, not only for the two sides or a certain spectrum of certain narrow identities, but for all the people who live in this place with emphasis on women*.” (…) Alex* (Name changed, Israeli Coordinator)

“Before being the coordinator of the women’s*seminar, I have been to many dialogue seminars as translator. Usually, in such seminars Palestinian women when they are together with men do not claim their right to speak, and there is no space and time for them to speak either. Usually, from my experience and here I do not want to generalize, they keep quiet, like their voice is not important and their tone not ‚patriotic‘ and ‚militant‘ enough. Men usually decide which tone of speaking and approach must be used at those seminars. (…) Many of the women in a gender mixed seminar came with their brother, husband, nephew, because of family restrictions, this is like a ‚permit‘ from the family to allow them to participate and to be far away from home. They accompany them to be sure that they are safe and that no one can harm their reputation. The fact of having family members in the seminar space makes it harder for women to be fully present. Because of these experiences I came to the first seminar with low expectation and I was really happy to see that this was different in this seminar. (…)I believe women can approach and express very conflictual topics in a genuine way. Side by side they keep containing the women also from the other side. If women were given the chance to engage in reaching solutions for the conflict, there would be just and sustainable solutions. I witnessed that in the seminar especially while discussing the topic of transitional justice. The feedback I get after the seminar from participants is overwhelming. I see totally different women: women who are not afraid to talk, who claim their space and rights. Some decided to be activists against the occupation or in the movements for women’s rights.“ (…) Rana*(Name changed, Palestinian Coordinator)