Journalist and member of the Palestinian Legislative council, Najat Abu Baker, was the youngest member of Fatah in the village of Arraba. Najat was 12 years when she created a fund to assist needy pupils in her school and buy winter clothes for them. In spite of her wealthy family background, she had a vision from an early age that this would help eradicate poverty. At 14, she created a library in her village and spent time collecting books from homes with the help of her friends.
At 15, she joined the Fatah Movement. She was appointed as youth coordinator in her village. She suffered from the oppression of Israeli soldiers and the anger of her parents. She was interrogated by Israeli Intelligence at the age of 17 and suffered embezzlement and rape threats. She was interrogated many times by Israeli Intelligence when she started at Al-Najah University. She was politically active and became the President of the Students’ Union. She stood fast and did not betray her cause. She obtained a BA in Sociology with an option in journalism. She soon became an official Palestinian leader when an Israeli decision prevented her from work and led her to go into NGO activism.
Najat was proud of Palestinian women who looked after their imprisoned husbands by taking food to them, and those who sold their jewellery and property to support the revolution. She believes Palestinian women were spiritually killed after the 1948 Nakba and could not bring up a victorious generation in 1967.
She established the Baysan Press and Media Centre in 1988. She worked as a correspondent for a number of news agencies, notably Italian press and radio. She is a specialist of brief reports on the Israeli occupation violations.
Najet Abou Baker believes highly competent journalists always prevail and that communication is the safety valve for institutions and governments. She is thinking about returning to journalism after completing her term in the Palestinian Legislative council and establishing a specialized women’s media center.
Along with her colleagues, she contributed to finding premises for the Nablus Open University and obtained grants to refurbish it. After serving as its Public Relations Director from 1993 to 1997, she then worked for the Palestinian Trade Ministry as the director of its Nablus office. She was neither deterred by shootings nor threats to her and her daughters following a scandal involving the smuggling of perished products and actually sued many Palestinian traders.
As Director of the Nablus office, she sponsored a project aimed at boycotting the products of Israeli settlements. She explained in a simple way the concept of resistant economy and promoted awareness around it, especially among women.
In 2006, she was elected a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. She ranked seventh in the Fatah nationwide candidates list. For her, this came to complete what she had started in the area of development and the consolidation of womens’ political roles. She seeks to mobilize the forgotten women who are invisible in spite of their competence because of social, economic and political constraints. The aim is to create a popular women’s movement capable of defending women’s rights and confronting occupation projects and plans. She believes that only free women can bring up a free and victorious generation, as mortified women would surely erect a defeated generation. If people cannot move forward, they go backward.
Moeen Koa, student, Palestine.
Supervision: Dr. Samar Shunnar, Al-Najah National University.