First Women-Only Coffee Shop Opens in Palestine

The female-only coffee shop gives women a place to relax without fear

What does the first female-only coffee shop in Palestine look like? Like any other coffee shop — hookahs, a piano, playing cards, backgammon, and decorative cloths — minus the men.

The coffee shop in Ramallah, Palestine, was opened by eight local women to give women the space they need, reports New Strait Times. One of the driving forces behind the new shop was Balsam Qaddoura, a 21-year-old university student. She said to the media, "The idea came to me when I was sitting in a coffee shop in Ramallah, I felt the need to hang out in a more comfortable environment." Said another young woman, "Some men don't look at us in a good way if we smoke hookah, and thus we prefer to go to a place for women only." The women, between the ages of 21 and 35, got the support of their parents to open up the shop.

At the shop, only one man is allowed — the chef. The girls are currently training two other females to do his job, but for the time being, the chef stays in the kitchen. The girls said some men have tried to venture into the shop, but have been turned away.

Reactions to the coffee shop have been mixed; some men like the idea of a female-only shop so that men can, well, be men at their own shops. Others say the new shop is a sign of a more secularized society — or one reverting back to a traditional, male-driven society. Some women's rights advocates fear the shop would encourage more separation between males and females, rather than integration.