Badass 'Speed Sisters': The First Palestinian Women's Auto Racing Team

Cars represent far more than transportation for the Speed Sisters.

It’s 7 a.m. in Jenin and the last of the oversized wooden crates have just been cleared out of the open-air vegetable market. A group of volunteers in bright orange vests set cones where chalk marks have been scratched on the asphalt. The Palestinian Motor Sports and Motorcycle Federation’s banner flutters alongside those of local corporate sponsors. Food vendors begin their rounds as a crowd gathers around the track.

Despite restrictions on mobility and movement, organizers erect makeshift racetracks in major cities across the occupied Palestinian Territories of the West Bank. Beyond the vegetable stalls of Jenin, cars can be seen racing on Arafat’s former helicopter pad in Bethlehem, on a tarmac in the 10,000 year old city of Jericho, in a main street nestled in the valley of Nablus, in the lot outside a transit point and prison at the edges of Ramallah. The motor races provide a release from the pressures of everyday life and the spirited competition between cities brings spectators out in the thousands, lining rooftops and leaning over barricades to photograph the best shots of the day and to see final times on the digital scoreboard.

The first car peels off the line and screeches around the cones, nearly drowned out by the cheers of hundreds of fans energized by the day of motor racing ahead. They are young men, mostly, boys, and a few families with kids. The more nimble have climbed atop the buildings and shipping crates to get a better view. And then, the crowd is suddenly quiet, their eyes tracking the black hatchback entering the track.

“Nummber two! Marrrrrrrah, from Jenin!” The crowd erupts. “Huh? A girl?” one guy asks. Marah, the 20-year-old racing prodigy, drives up to the start line. Jenin is home, and this is her turf. It was here that she first beat out most men to place in the top ten. Eyes closed, she whispers a passage of self-encouragement from the Koran. Her fingers chart the course in the air that she is tracing in her mind, that she has been doodling in the pages of her course books for days, that she has been seeing in her sleep. It loops and weaves. It seems to never end.

But she knows it now. She’ll find her way.

Marah is not alone. Brought together by a common desire to live life on their own terms, several determined Palestinian women have taken on the street car speed test circuit of the West Bank—competing against each other for the title of fastest woman, for bragging rights for their home city, and to prove that women can compete head on with men in Palestine and beyond. Together they have been acclaimed as the first all-women motor racing team in the Middle East—the “Speed Sisters.”


Each of these women has her own story and each is part of something more newsworthy than news: the daily reality and personal dreams that live on behind stock images and breaking news headlines from Palestine and the Middle East.

The lives of the Speed Sisters are more complicated than the winding slalom course of their improvised time trial tracks. For them, motor racing is a small challenge compared to navigating the complicated maps of daily life in a nascent state struggling with conflict and occupation, with development and politics, and with the tension, common around the world, between social expectations and personal choice for young women—in family, career, and love.

The Speed Sisters are doing something very simple and yet very brave. They are resisting a reality that diminishes their dreams, that tells them their future is small, predictable. In pursuing their passions and the drive to move freely in the face of the shrinking horizons under a military occupation, they are planting hope in the eyes of those who watch them race. This gives them confidence to continue to pursue their own personal aspirations, even when doing so requires pushing social boundaries.

Cars, then, represent far more than a means of transportation for the Speed Sisters. Taking the wheel represents an insistence on the right to mobility, a taste of hope and independence, and the stubborn belief that a larger and wider future is possible in their lives as women and as Palestinians.

Want to learn more about the Speed Sisters and their lives? A documentary film I've directed/produced on them is currently in production. Please join us at,, and

Join us for our Fix Your Street Challenge on the last Saturday of May. Click here to say you'll Do It and be sure to share stories of transportation innovation all month.

via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

In the far-reaching conversation, Clinton and the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" and, without a doubt, the best interviewer in America discussed everything from Donald Trump's inauguration to her sexuality.

Keep Reading Show less

Offering parental leave for new fathers could help close the gender gap, removing the unfair "motherhood penalty" women receive for taking time off after giving birth. However, a new study finds that parental leave also has a pay gap. Men are less likely to take time off, however, when they do, they're more likely to get paid for it.

A survey of 2,966 men and women conducted by New America found that men are more likely to receive paid parental leave. Over half (52%) of fathers had fully paid parental leave, and 14% of fathers had partially paid parental leave. In comparison, 33% of mothers had fully paid parental leave and 19% had partially paid parental leave.

Keep Reading Show less

Bans on plastic bags and straws can only go so far. Using disposable products, like grabbing a plastic fork when you're on the go, can be incredibly convenient. But these items also contribute to our growing plastic problem.

Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger


Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head


Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor


Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

The Planet