The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy – MIFTAH recently concluded a project advocating for the inclusion of women and youth in high decision-making positions within the Palestinian political system, especially within the Palestine Liberation Organization – PLO.
MIFTAH addresses the case of low representation of women and youth at the policy level through influencing policy formulation of the Popular Unions that represent all Palestinian national factions (1) and nonaffiliated Palestinians, instead of dealing with each political faction individually. During the field project, MIFTAH focused on two main unions within the PLO: the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS), which is considered the most comprehensive representative body for Palestinian youth and the legitimate channel for their representation in various PLO institutions, and the General Union of Palestinian Women (GUPW).
In the dialogue sessions, the participants agreed that the best way to activate and restore the PLO legitimacy is through conducting democratic elections governed by regulatory laws and instruments to ensure adequate representation of youth and women. GUPS elections will take place during the upcoming two years according to the latest National Council recommendations. However, no specific date was set yet. The discussions also concluded the importance of unifying the national efforts to demanding and putting pressure on GUPS & GUPW Executive Board to make the necessary preparations for holding the unions’ general conferences as soon as possible. A policy proposal was elaborated and directed towards the executive committee and the national council of the PLO and political parties. The paper includes recommendations that aim at:
- changing the constitution of the GUPS which is one of the PLO’s bodies
- urging the political factions to increase the representation of youth and women by at least 30% in the near future.
A joint statement was issued which reflects the commitment of all the national political factions (FIDA, DELP, FATAH, PPP, ALNIDAL, Al MOUBADRAH and PFLP) to accept the proposed amendments to GUPS internal by-laws to adopt a 30% quota representation of women at a minimum. The policy paper is to be ratified during the upcoming meeting, and turned into a legal framework of GUPS constitution.
5 out of 7 political factions (FIDA, DELP, FATAH, PPP, ALNIDAL) also agreed on the importance of activating the role of the GUPW.
In addition to the dialogue sessions, between October 2017 and March 2018, MIFTAH conducted various activities such as a press conference, the broadcasting of live talk shows in cooperation with a national radio station (24 FM), as well as producing a documentary film that includes a number of interviews with public figures, decision makers, youth and women activists in order to document their demands and calls for PLO reformation.
The project’s most important result was setting a mechanism for implementing the central council decision relating to women representation by no less than 30% in all political system institutions and PLO bodies, to guarantee representation of female students among the various leadership positions of GUPS, as well as setting the period of presidency term of GUPS at two terms as a maximum, while every term period is three years. MIFTAH’s field project was conducted within the framework of the project "Strengthening the capacity of equality actors" funded by the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs (MEAE) and coordinated by the IEMed in synergy with the FFEM. This action also falls under the framework of the project "Developing women’s empowerment", labelled by the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM). This project was formulated as a result of the mobilization of gender equality actors which MIFTAH developed as the leader of the local cluster of gender equality actors© in Palestine - cycle 2.
(1) Palestinian Democratic Union (FIDA), Palestinian National Initiative (Al MOUBADRAH), Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), Palestinian National Liberation (FATAH), Palestinian People’s Party (PPP), The Palestinian Popular Struggle Front (ALNIDAL), Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
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 Europe and Foreign Affairs 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.