‘Gaza Girls: Growing Up in the Gaza Strip’ – resilience in the face of adversity

Photojournalist Monique Jaques first traveled to Gaza to cover an eight-day war between Israeli Defense Forces and Hamas. That was five years ago, and she has returned again and again since then, driven to document the strength, creativity and vibrancy of Palestinian girls and young women.

When you’re a young girl in Gaza, your existence is defined by its boundaries, both literal and metaphorical — defined by both regional and cultural politics. Many women say that in a place as small as Gaza, it is impossible to be truly free.

“I am awed and haunted by their tremendous resilience, even in the face of unimaginable adversity. I also see so much similarity between these teenage girls and the teenage girl I once was, despite our different circumstances,” shared Monique.

Here’s a look.

FotoEvidence and Monique Jaques have teamed up to publish “Gaza Girls: Growing Up in the Gaza Strip,” stories of girls coming of age in a difficult place. The book will be available at the end of the year.  Find more information and pre-order here. >>>

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Themed nails

A girl shows off her Palestinian themed nails after a recent bombing campaign. (Photograph by Monique Jaques)

Female surfer

For many Gazans the sea is the only place they can be without being reminded of their isolation. Female Surfer, Sabah Abu Ghanem ,14 and her sister surf early in the morning outside of Gaza city. The sisters place first in many competitions inside the strip, but have never left the Gaza Strip to compete. (Photograph by Monique Jaques)

Girls play football

Girls play football in the Northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiyah. Women in Gaza typically do all types of sports till the age of 16, when family pressure forces them to stop as many families seek to find husbands for them. (Photograph by Monique Jaques)

Female singer

Hadeel Fawzy Abushar 25 records a song in a studio in Gaza City. Few female singers remain as families and local government look down on the practice. Hadeel started when she was 12, as all of her sisters are singers. (Photograph by Monique Jaques)

A lips-shaped phone and prayer rug

A phone shaped like lips and a prayer rug sit in the corner during a blackout. (Photograph by Monique Jaques)

Medical students

Medical students from Islamic University on break in the Maternity Ward of Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza. (Photograph by Monique Jaques)

Growing up on the Gaza Strip

A woman walks by a mural discouraging domestic violence outside if Al-Shifa hospital. According to a 2012 study, some 37% of women are subjected to domestic violence by their husbands. (Photograph by Monique Jaques)

Blackout in Gaza

Yara and her friends prepare a dance number during a blackout. Fuel is scarce in Gaza and many families only receive six to eight hours of electricity a day. (Photograph by Monique Jaques)

Growing up on the Gaza Strip

Yara and her brother wait for their father to return with schwarma as an evening treat after a recent conflict ended. (Photograph by Monique Jaques)

Exercises after recent bombings

Nisreen Shawa, a worker for the Palestinian Medical Relief Foundation at the Hamza Bin Abd-el Muttalib School where they do art therapy and exercises with girls after the recent bombings. (Photograph by Monique Jaques)

Female boat driver

Madleen Koolab takes Gazan’s out for rides on Thursday nights, a popular night for families. Madleen owns the boat and uses it to fish during the week. (Photograph by Monique Jaques)

Growing up on the Gaza Strip

Doaa in a friend’s bedroom. Girls that are unmarried have few places to be themselves. Bedrooms and private cars are sanctuaries where girls can sing and dance without being judged by the public or their own families. (Photograph by Monique Jaques)

Damage after recent strikes

Hours after a ceasefire was declared between Hamas and Israel, the people of Gaza City begin to rebuild. Shops open and families go out to witness the damage incurred by the recent strikes. (Photograph by Monique Jaques)

A beauty salon

At a salon in Gaza City women come to get their hair, nails, and makeup done before weddings. In many families, a woman is not allowed to be seen without a veil by a man outside of her family, so beauty salons are for women only. (Photograph by Monique Jaques)

Manequins in a shop

Manequins show off available clothing in a shop near the main street of Gaza. (Photograph by Monique Jaques)

Growing up on the Gaza Strip

Girls watch the sun set at the harbor in Gaza City. While living in Gaza is undeniably tough, being a woman there is harder. (Photograph by Monique Jaques)

Gaza Girls: Growing up in the Gaza Strip

Bookcover of “Gaza Girls: Growing up in the Gaza Strip.”