General Director of the Women’s Affairs Center in Gaza.
Human Rights Activist.
Naila Ayesh is a Palestinian human rights activist and one of the key organizers of the women’s movement of the First Intifada in the 1980s. She was arrested multiple times for her activism, spent time in prison, and endured torture by the Israeli authorities. After her husband was deported, she spent 6 months in jail with her infant son before being released. Following the First Intifada, Ayesh was the General Director and a board member of the Women’s Affairs Center in Gaza, a non-governmental organization devoted to advancing women’s leadership, empowerment, and participation in public and political life. Over the course of 15 years, she and her team have trained thousands of women as human rights defenders, and advocated for women as change agents. As a leader among Palestinian NGOs, she helps to address a range of contemporary issues facing women, youth, families, and organizers across Palestinian society. In this way, she is a role model and a source of support to the next generation of young women who are working to end the occupation and build a rights-respecting future. She is a tireless advocate for Palestinian self-sufficiency, and was arrested, detained, and tortured for her activism and the power of organizing others.
More recently, Ayesh worked as the Field Coordinator for an EU project funded by the Heinrich Boll Stiftung Foundation, called “Advancing the Rights of Vulnerable Palestinian Women and Children in East Jerusalem.” Through this project she developed the capacities of small NGOs and community-based organizations and supported projects on women and youth empowerment, addressing gender-based violence and improving vulnerable women’s and children’s rights. She has also acted as a board member for numerous local organizations including the Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling, Palestine for Credit and Development “FATEN,” and the Kanaan Educational and Cultural center. The 2017 documentary Naila and the Uprising follows Ayesh's life as a nonviolent community organizer, and documents her critical role within the women’s movement during the First Intifada for the Palestinian right to self determination. She has continued to be an active voice in the Palestinian nonviolent women’s movement, and remains at the head of Palestine’s struggle for freedom.
Last modified: 01/09/2019