Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees (UPWC)


The Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees (UPWC) is identified by Fatah as an official “affiliate” and by USAID as the “women’s organization” of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a designated terrorist organization by the USEUCanada, and Israel. UPWC is also active in supporting BDS campaigns and utilizing inflammatory rhetoric. For more information on UPWC’s PFLP ties, read NGO Monitor’s report “The Union of Palestinian Women Committees Society’s Ties to the PFLP Terror Group.”


Country/TerritoryPalestinian Authority
In their own words“UPWC strives to build a civil democratic progressive community free of all forms of discrimination and respects women rights as part of human rights in general.”



  • The Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees’ (UPWC) stated aim is to “contribute in the Palestinian national struggle against the Israeli military illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories.”
  • UPWC is active in advocacy and engages in “Lobbying on the decision makers and legislators to issue a modern civil laws set to ensure developing the Palestinian community.”
  • UPWC supports “the boycott of occupation in all forms, including economic, cultural, academic and all other forms of boycott.”
  • UPWC rejects any normalization with Israel calling it “treason.” In 2017, during the “Journey for Hope and Peace” organized by the Israeli NGO Women Wage Peace, UPWC issued a statement declaring that “On behalf of all of the struggling Palestinian women, we call upon our brothers and sisters, comrades, strugglers and all honest forces of the Palestinian people, men and women, to stop the ‘Women Wage Peace’ march, and we call for the investigation and national prosecution of those responsible” (emphasis added).

UPWC’s Ties to the PFLP

UPWC Staff Members with Ties to the PFLP

  • Khitam Saafin
    • In November 2020, Saafin was arrested and placed in administrative detention for six months. In response, UPWC called on “all freedom fighters in Palestine and the world to carry out solidarity campaigns with the Palestinian women prisoners and all the militants and prisoners of our people until their liberation.”
    • In May 2019, Khitam Saafin attended a memorial event organized by the PFLP. It centered on PFLP political bureau member Rabah Muhanna, who, according to information posted by the PFLP, “contributed to the establishment” of several PFLP-affiliated NGOs. The hall was decorated with PFLP paraphernalia.
    • In July 2017, President of UPWC Khitam Saafin was arrested by the Israeli security forces.
    • In a July 2017 statement published by the PFLP, the terrorist organization “confirmed that the Zionist occupation forces launched a pre-dawn campaign of raids across the occupied West Bank of Palestine on Sunday, arresting a number of leaders and activists of the Front, led by the Palestinian Legislative Council member Khalida Jarrar, feminist activist Khitam Saafin and former prisoner Ihab Massoud, as well as a number of activists in al-Khalil” (emphasis added).
    • The PFLP has referred to Saafin as a “comrade.”
  • Suhair Khader
    • According to the PFLP, Vice President Suhair Khader is “a member of the Central Committee of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.”
    • In May 2022, Khader attended the PFLP’s “8th national conference” on “loyalty to the martyrs and prisoners.”
    • In a March 2018 article on the PFLP website, Khader stated that the “retrieving of our stolen rights and the realization of our national and struggle project, which is first and foremost embodied in the right of return – the essence of the conflict between us and the Zionist enemy thief– can only be through the crystallization of a mass of pressure and severe masses flowing to the return camps” (emphasis added). Khader further “stated the need to strengthen women’s participation and the need for them to  advance to the front rows and to continue their fighting actions. Moreover, she called for arming oneself with the motivation and determination until retrieving our national rights, embodied in the right of return and the liberation of every centimeter of occupied Palestine” (emphasis added).
  • Samira Abdel-Alim
  • Ismat Shakhshir
  • Maha Nassar
    • Maha Nassar “was one of the first people who founded the Popular Front Organization” in Birzeit University. She “contributed to the foundation of the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees in 1980” and served as its President until her death in 2008. She also served as a “member in the Assembly” of the Woman’s Affairs Technical Committee (WATC).
      • In May 2017, WATC inaugurated a youth center for girls in the town of Burqa, near Nablus. As reported by Palestinian Media Watch, the center is named after Dalal Mughrabi, a terrorist who in 1978 murdered 37 civilians, including 12 children.
    • In a UPWC statement (reprinted on the PFLP’s website) marking the 5th anniversary of Nassar’s death, UPWC claimed that “her actions have always preceded her words, like those of Shadia Abu Ghazaleh and Dalal Al Moghrabi and all Palestinian women martyrs” and that “Comrade Maha’s visible role in the first and second Intifada is well known to the Palestinian people.”
      • In 1978, Dalal Mugrabi, a Palestinian terrorist, murdered 38 civilians, including 13 children in the Coastal Road Massacre.
      • Shadia Abu Ghazaleh is referred to by the PFLP as a “comrade.” The PFLP website notes that she was “one of the original members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine” and “one of the first Palestinian women to be involved in military resistance in the post-1967 era.” According to the PFLP, “She participated in and led several military operations carried out by the PFLP before the accidental detonation of a bomb in her home. Today, her name is immortal as a struggler, a leader, and a fighter in the history of the Palestinian people and the people of the world.”
    • The PFLP refers to Nassar as a “comrade,” “role model,” and “icon of national and democratic struggle.”
  • Abla Sa’adat
    • Abla Sa’adat, wife of PFLP General-Secretary Ahmad Sa’adat, is an active member of UPWC and has represented the NGO on multiple occasions. As of 2015, Sa’adat has held a seat on UPWC’s executive bureau.
    • According to the PFLP and Nawa news outlet, in 2014, Sa’adat spoke on behalf of UPWC in an official PFLP mourning event for “the national fighter” and “comrade” PFLP member Naima Zaidan Shaqir. The event was attended by “PFLP leadership and representatives of the Palestinian National and Islamic Forces (PNIF).” Sa’adat said that Shaqir “represented a living model of a strong fighter woman in the path of her people’s liberation.” During the event, Sa’adat discussed Shaqir’s role in establishing UPWC.

UPWC’s Incitement of Children

  • According to UPWC, the organization supervises the “Ghassan Kanafani” educational project for young children. Kanafani was a “leading member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.”
  • The Ghassan Kanafani Project’s 2017 preschool graduation ceremony program included “solidarity with our brave prisoners” and children dressed in military uniforms and holding PFLP signs. (See Appendix below for pictures.)

Political Advocacy

  • In November 2022, UPWC was a signatory on a letter to the ICC Prosecutor to “Urgently expedite his investigation into the Situation of Palestine, including the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.” 
  • In September 2022, UPWC was a signatory on a joint statement urging the US government to condemn the decision by the Israeli Ministry to designate six Palestinian NGOs, including UPWC, as terrorist organizations. According to the letter, “Our organizations do vital human rights and humanitarian work that is necessary due to Israel’s decades-long belligerent occupation of Palestinian land that is actively and robustly supported by your administration.” The letter also called for the US to “End complicity and financial and diplomatic support to the Israeli apartheid regime.”
  • In May 2022, UPWC was a signatory on a petition titled “The Return Appeal” calling on the United Nations to “take all necessary steps and measures for immediately holding the occupation’s state accountable for all the crimes, the latter has so far committed against the Palestinian people, within strict legal means that would not allow the occupation’s criminals to evade interrogation or possible trials.”
  • In September 2020, UPWC called for the UN General Assembly to “Launch international investigations into Israel’s apartheid regime over the Palestinian people as a whole, as well as associated State and individual criminal responsibility,” to “Ban arms trade and military-security cooperation with Israel,” and “Prohibit all trade with illegal Israeli settlements and ensure that companies refrain from and terminate business activities with Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise.”
  • In 2019, UPWC lobbied in support of the discriminatory UN database of businesses operating across the 1949 Armistice line, aimed at bolstering BDS campaigns against Israel.
  • On December 24, 2018, UPWC “held a solidarity rally…in front of the headquarters of the Red Cross in Gaza City. This stand comes at the conclusion of the activities of the Women and Political Participation Project in partnership with the Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) with the participation of dozens of families of prisoners and representatives of the Palestinian and solidarity forces and factions.”
    • According to the UPWC website, “The Women and Political Participation Project funded by Norwegian People’s Aid ( NPA ) [that started in 2013] aims to enhance the role of women in Palestinian political life to raise their awareness, prepare and support them in municipal elections and enhance their political role in Palestinian political parties.” The project activities included:
      • “A Meeting with 7 political parties (National Liberation Movement – Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine– Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine – Arab Liberation Front – Initiative Party – People’s Party)” (emphasis added).
      • “Lobbying and advocacy campaigns…a protest at the Rafah crossing” (emphasis added).
  • In March 2018, UPWC organized a conference titled “Repercussions of the Current Situation on Women in the Gaza Strip,” which was “part of the Women and Political Participation Project in partnership with Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA).” Mariam Abu Dakka, “one of the first female military leaders” and a PFLP Political Bureau member, presented a paper “in which she stressed that women are present at all stages of the national struggle in different form.”
    • Abu Dakka also stated that “women played an important role in the Popular Front and leftist organizations in general, while there was no distinction between women and men regarding the division of tasks during the armed struggle – in the Gaza Strip and the abduction of aircraft from the military bases” (emphasis added).
    • According to UPWC, the conference was introduced with “a minute of silence on the lives of the martyrs of the Palestinian people.”
  • In 2014, during the Gaza war, UPWC published a statement accusing Israel of“commit[ting] crime after crime, massacre after massacre,” and “institut[ing] racist policies through a system of apartheid, which is the ugliest in the history of mankind” (emphasis added). The statement, which ends with “Glory, eternity and loyalty to our martyr,”  “call[s] on the masses of our people for increased participation in the struggle and direct confrontation with the Occupation,” and demands “a [Palestinian] leadership that is working to develop a national strategy for the struggle, and thus ending the negotiations and security coordination with the occupation, which is a dagger in the side of our people and their struggle” (emphasis added).
  • As reported by the PFLP, in 2012 the UPWC “organized a visit to the home of the martyr Comrade Mahmoud Gharbawi, writer and former member of the Political Vureau (sic) of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, marking the 40th day after his death. This visit came as one of a series of events organized by the PFLP . . .”


  • UPWC is a partners with the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO), which refused to sign the anti-terror clause that is a condition of US government funding, stating “that its members would not sign funding agreements that included the ATC [Anti-Terror Certificate]: this is now a condition for membership under PNGO byelaws [sic]” (emphasis added).
    • In April 2017, PNGO called on the international community not to “use aid to undermine legitimate Palestinian resistance.” According to PNGO, “We reject all de-legitimization or criminalization of lawful Palestinian resistance, whether in form of allegations of terrorism, anti-semitism or otherwise… We call on all governments and aid providers to respect our right to lawful resistance, support Palestinian human rights defenders, and ensure equal, impartial and transparent access to funding for all.”
    • In March 2016, as a member of Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), PNGO stated that “Israel’s current government, its most racist ever, has dropped all pretences of ‘enlightenment’ and ‘democracy’. This has helped to expose Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid to world public opinion like never before.”
  • UPWC is on the Board of Trustees of the Alternative Information Center, an Israeli NGO with ties to the PFLP.

Appendix 1






UPWC’s Facebook account displays pictures of women hurling rocks during the violent riots along the Israel-Gaza border (see here and here).

Suhair Khader standing in front of a PFLP flag, PFLP website, March 29, 2018

The PFLP terror group logo is seen next to the EU and UPWC logos at a workshop to support female participation in elections.

Samira Abdel-Alim, UPWC coordinator in Rafah, speaks at a symposium organized by the International Campaign for Solidarity with Comrade Ahmad Saadat, PFLP website, February 26, 2015

Pictures of the festivities marking the end of the 2017 Ghassan Kanafani project. The pictures are published on UPWC’s Facebook account and feature children wearing uniforms or T-shirts of Kanafani. One child is seen lying down on the floor with a gun. Others are dancing around with knives. One picture also presents children holding a poster of what appears to be PFLP prisoners. (Source: Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, Facebook, May 29, 2017)

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