While women and youth make up the largest segments of the Palestinian society, their participation in the political life remains under expectations. Underrepresentation of women and youth in leadership and decision making levels severely impacts the ability to mobilize Palestinian resources and maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of their efforts and roles in reform processes. Moreover, rates of unemployment among women and youth are considered the highest among neighboring countries.
To confront this reality, the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH) has recently completed a project resulting in a set of concrete actions and interventions for the adoption of public policies to ensure that women and youth leaders are represented at decision making level within the Palestinian political system, specifically the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO); as well as for consolidating public, private and civil society efforts and aligning them with national policy development priorities to maximize ability of women and youth to fully participate in and access opportunities for self-advancement in a burgeoning economy and progressive society.
This multi-phased project included number of meetings with main actors on gender equality in Palestine such as AWRD (Arab world for Research & Development, the General Union for Palestinian Women (GUPW), the PLO‘s media and culture unit, representatives of student councils in Palestinian universities and representatives from MIFTAH’s Youth Network.
These meetings were followed by the creation of a Steering Committee composed of members from national political factions and parties, female and young political leaders and activists, and researchers who played influential role in addressing initial ideas that are considered new forms of interventions to ensure that youth and women’s voices are heard by the politicians and decision makers.
The SC also contributed to the elaboration of a pilot study on the obstacles which hinder the equal representation of women and youth within the various bodies of PLO and limit their access to decision-making positions. The reseach addresses the gaps in the current political order, especially within the PLO structures, and it sheds light on the absence of women from leadership positions within the PLO structure and from all its sub-entities, such as; political factions, popular unions and the Palestinian National Council (PNC).
The findings and the recommendations were finally showcased in a statement, during a press conference held in Ramallah which was covered by various national media outlets, including Maan News, Al-Quds Newspaper, Al Ayam Newspaper, and Alfalstinya TV.
The statement which laid out the foundation for the commitments of politicians regarding the representation of women and youth at decision-making levels, was plausible in social media.
This project came as a result of the selection of MIFTAH following a call for proposals promoted by the Foundation in 2016 to coordinate a local cluster gender equality actors between women and men© in 2017. The present action and the future project are supported by the Foundation in the framework of the initiative “Strengthening the capacities of actors working for gender equality” funded by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development (MAEDI).
For more information about local clusters of gender equality actors set up by the Foundation, click here.
This platform is part of the Axis 1 “Strengthening the capacities of equality actors” of the Priority Solidarity Fund “Women for the future in the Mediterranean” funded by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development and led by the European Institute of the Mediterranean, in the framework of the project “Developing Women’s Empowerment” labelled by the Union for the Mediterranean.