Proving that age is just a number, a Sharjah-based 74-year-old Palestinian woman has earned a doctorate degree in history.
Najma Khalil Abu Esbaa, who worked as a teacher for more than 17 years in the UAE, was awarded the mark of high distinction from The Hague University after presenting her thesis entitled ‘The role of Palestinian women in the struggle within the quarter century of the first intifada until 2012.’
The mother of five with 14 grandchildren received her degree after defending her thesis in front of a panel of judges in Sharjah on Saturday where she said age has never prevented her from achieving what she wants, Gulf News reported.
“The joy of wearing the graduation gown from The Hague University does not match any joy,” she said, adding that she owes her success to her husband and children who encouraged her to continue her academic pursuits.
“I believe education has no time limit or age limit and it is a weapon for every woman,” said Abu Esbaa. While discussing her thesis, she addressed the conditions and obstacles she encountered while collecting factual information about the reality of Palestinian women and, before that, in obtaining a tourist permit. During her visit, she had conducted field meetings with a number of women leaders including women prisoners, relatives of martyrs, and residents in Jordan.
“I couldn’t have achieved my dream without the support of my husband and children in the last five years while preparing the PHD thesis. It made me overcome all the difficulties,” she said, noting that she was involved in teaching her 14 grandchildren during the same time and could only work on her PHD thesis after 11pm.
She added: “I was devastated when I visited my destroyed town of Salma in 2014. I only found ruins and stones, which tells the story of a people who have struggled for decades.”
Members of the judging committee praised the research and survey carried out by Abu Esbaa and the fact that her letter documented women’s struggle for a quarter of a century. They described her research as “historical”, since she spoke on the reality of Palestinian women.