- Title: WEST BANK: MOTOR RACING - Palestinian women on track for motor racing equality
- Date: 20th July 2010
- Summary: AUDIENCE WATCHING
- Embargoed: 4th August 2010 13:00
- Topics: Light / Amusing / Unusual / Quirky,Sports
- Reuters ID: LVADV8HPMDCTTBXF2AECSWZFPS8S
- Story Text: New faces joined the ranks of Palestinian racing as eight women calling themselves the 'Speed Sisters' competed against their male rivals in a race held in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
To loud pounding music, the women zoomed around the track, spun in circles and wove around obstacles in a race called the 'speed test,' part of the Palestine Motors Sports Race.
The women received adoration and cheers from the crowd on their performance in what is known throughout the world as a male-dominated sport.
The 'Speed Sisters' have the backing of the British consulate in east Jerusalem, which has invested in their training, equipment and revamping of the vehicles.
"We didn't used to train, each woman participant used to enter races on her own. The British consulate, I am very thankful to them, they did something very nice for the women," says team captain Suna Oweidah.
"We started a team called 'Speed Sisters' and it is made up of eight women. They brought us two women British trainers, one for theory and one for practical training. The women's level improved by a great deal and is now excellent," she added.
But Oweida points out that although men and women compete on an equal basis in West Bank races, the men have more expensive, modified cars and thus perform better.
She is now working on getting sponsors and better equipped cars for the women's team.
Eighteen-year-old Marah Zahalka, the youngest of the team and a business student at a West Bank university, won sixth place among all the participants and first place on the women's team at the Ramallah race.
"Today I won a very good placing - sixth amongst the men. It's difficult to express my feelings, it is the first time I win a ranking like this," she said after the awards ceremony.
Zahalka believes that the inclusion and acceptance of women in car racing is an indication that Palestinian society is willing to include women in all walks of life.
"At first there were difficulties and I faced problems from society. But I have surpassed the problems and on the contrary, I have reversed the idea that this sport is only for men, women can also participate in it. And I feel that society supports me," she said.
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