The Speed Sisters – tearing up social tracks in Palestine

Published 9 February 2015 in:

SPEED SISTERS. Photo: Tanya Habjouqa

They’re bold. They’re fearless. And, they’re tearing up tracks all over Palestine. They’re the Speed Sisters: five women who form the first all-female racing team in the Middle East.

Palestine is in many aspects a rather conservative society when it comes to women’s roles. Women are highly educated, but participation in the labour market is amongst the lowest in the world. Social customs relating to roles and behaviors of women can be pervasive. The Speed Sisters are challengeing the norms head on.

The team formed in 2009 with a common passion for car racing. They are competing in the national racing cup, where one of its members is ranked amongst the top ten in the country. The journey has not been easy for all of the team members. There have been negative reactions from parts of their extended family, from certain religious leaders and from male competitors. However, the team has also received an overwhelming support from close family, fans and from the Palestinian Racing Federation.

The other day, we met the Canadian-Lebanese director Amber Fares in Ramallah. She first met the team during a large race in Bethlehem and decided to learn more. Now she has made a movie portraying their remarkable story. The movie, that is soon to have its international premiere, tells a different story about a region all too often depicted in a one-dimensional manner. It challenges stereotypes of women in Palestine and the region at large. Also, it contains plenty of male role models, supporting their daughters/colleagues/competitors to choose a path challenging prevailing norms.

You cannot but admire the strong women of the Speed Sisters racing team – and the director who is telling their story. They will remain a source of inspiration for us at the Consulate General in our continuous work to support gender equality and women’s rights throughout Palestine, in line with our government’s feminist foreign policy.