Matiel Toomey Moghannam (February 15, 1899 – August 11, 1992) was an important figure in the Palestinian women’s movement during the British Mandate. Born in Lebanon, she moved to the United States as a child, and in the 1920s traveled to Jerusalem, Palestine, where she married Moghannam Elias Moghannam, a leading lawyer and member of the National Defense Party.
In 1929, in the aftermath of the Al-Buraq (Western Wall ) riots, Matiel became active in the Palestinian women’s movement and was a co-founder, with Wahida al-Khalidi, of both the Arab Women’s Executive and the Arab Women’s Association, nationalist, as well as feminist organizations. Their primary purposes were to promote the education of girls and the social and economic status of women, but they also actively protested the British Mandate and promoted support for the Palestinian national cause.
Together with Tarab Abd al-Hadi, Matiel organized the First Congress of Palestinian Arab Women, and in October 1929, they became the first two official representatives of a Palestinian women’s delegation to meet with High Commissioner, Lord Chancellor.
Matiel also spoke at the Mosque of the Dome of the Rock during the Arab Women’s non-violent March to the Holy Sites on 15 April 1933.
She authored “The Arab Woman and the Palestinian Problem,” (London: Herbert Joseph,1937).
In 1938, she participated in the first Arab Women’s Congress in Cairo, headed by leading feminist, Huda Shaarawi.
In 1939, Matiel established the Arab Women’s Union Society in Ramallah, in order to provide relief, charity activities, and to offer sewing and embroidery workshops for women.
In 1980, she finally returned to Virginia, USA, where she died of congestive heart failure in 1992.
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