Gazan female sports journalist aims to go beyond the border

Working in a male-dominated industry in a conservative environment isn’t always easy.

September 10, 2015 01:25
2 minute read.
Nelly al-Masri

Nelly al-Masri. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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With her camera and notepad at the ready, it’s a regular day’s work for Palestinian sports reporter Nelly al-Masri.

Snapping sports men and women, she’s among the few female journalists covering sporting events in Gaza.

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Masri comes from a sporting family, her father, Ismael al-Masri was a well known soccer player and coach in the 1960s.

“For sure, my upbringing has a huge role in developing my skills in the sports field, memorizing the information and knowing all related issues to the Palestinian sport.

“Since my father was a player on the Palestinian soccer team in the ’60s, a well-known football coach and managed the Palestinian soccer team until 2005, that qualified me to have a lot of information regarding Palestinian sports, the clubs, the players and it encouraged me to love sports, play it and later enter the field of sports journalism,’’ said al-Masri.

Working in a male-dominated industry in a conservative environment isn’t always easy.

But for Masri it isn’t the social barriers that are getting in the way of her career, she says it’s the travel restrictions imposed by Israel and Egypt that makes it hard for her to pursue certain stories.

“Closing the crossings caused me to lose many chances. I was going to participate in a conference in Morocco with the Arab sports leaders association and [another conference] in Sharm el-Sheikh. I have conferences that I want to attend in October in Bahrain and Morocco, the conference for female Arab sports reporters, but until now I don’t know if I will be able to get out of Gaza or not,’’ she said.

As a member of the West Asian Athletics Association media committee and vice president of the women’s sports committee in the Palestinian Olympic Committee, Masri is making strides in her field.

And according to her father she’s a role model for other women wanting to follow in her footsteps.

“It’s important to me as an athlete and as a modern man who lived the experience to encourage a role for woman in society. The woman should pave her way in society as she likes it and it’s in line with her hobbies.

I support women to be a part of society. We are a Muslim and modern society that understands the traditions of our country and homeland,’’ said Ismael al-Masri.

A blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt means residents cannot import many basic construction materials to rebuild, as they can be used to build weapons and attack tunnels. Israel no longer gives work permits to Gazans, and only a tiny few ever receive permission to set foot out of the increasingly impoverished enclave, the rest confined indefinitely to an area less than half the size of New York City.

According to the World Bank, Gaza now has the world’s worst-performing economy, with the world’s highest unemployment at 43 percent, 68 percent among those aged 20-24. Since 1994, real per capita income has fallen by nearly a third. Manufacturing – once the hoped-for backbone of an economic revival – has shriveled by 60 percent.

But despite the setbacks, Masri remains committed to covering stories beyond the Gaza border.

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