Ramallah – 6/10/2020
MIFTAH recently completed a series of training workshops on women’s political participation, gender-based violence and promoting public voter awareness for participation in the upcoming elections. A total of 81 activists, youth and women participated in the workshops from the Tulkarm, Qalqilya, Jenin and Tubas districts, which were held in August and September. The workshops also included follow-up with youth and women’s groups on the preparation and coordination of tasks for implementing up to 160 awareness workshops in various areas of the four districts. These workshops contributed to raising public awareness on citizen rights, elections and the political participation of women and youth.
MIFTAH coordinator in Tulkarm, Nada Biddo spoke of the workshop’s significance. “It was clear that the participants were thirsty for information in order to build their capabilities. They received training on how to manage workshops, formulate action plans and mechanisms, conduct workshops in community centers and parties and pass on the expertise and skills they acquired, with a special focus on the political participation of women. This is with the ultimate goal for these women to reach decision-making positions and have representation in the PLC and in local and town councils.”
Farha Abu Al Hayja’, MIFTAH’s Jenin coordinator, explained that 25 women and youths participated in the training workshops, which revolved around citizens’ rights and women’s political participation. She said the training focused on diversity of gender, geographic location – camp, city, village – diversity in factions and parties and on the level of awareness to political participation, citizenry and women’s rights. “I felt everyone had a real desire to benefit from the workshops and heighten their awareness of the proposed issues.” She continued, “The training also provided an opportunity to raise awareness on the importance of renouncing gender-based violence and the need to support women and youth as voters and candidates and the necessity for expanding the scope of awareness to reach the largest possible social sectors. Hence, the trainings helped to empower participants to promote themselves and their issues in a better way. The training also motivated the participants to hold more awareness meetings, which will help them to determine the goals and mechanisms necessary to ensure that their upcoming town hall meetings will be a success.”
Meanwhile, Aref Jaffal, a political participation and elections trainer said the four youth groups had a ‘driving spirit and had an urge to actively participate in general and local elections.” He said the groups focused on the importance of guaranteeing that all those eligible for registration actually register. The participants discussed and supported lowering the candidacy age to guarantee the broadest possible participation of youth in the electoral process. They also called for electoral lists to lock in one out of the first three seats for youth on each list. In terms of women’s participation, the participants stressed on the need for the women’s quota to be a minimum of 30% in abidance with the Central Council decision. The participants spoke about the importance of promoting women’s participation in and after the electoral process including the need to develop the electoral system to guarantee women’s ascension to the position of local council presidents.
The groups reiterated the importance of working to reverse the sense of frustration among youth and the duty of the political leadership not to add to this frustration but rather to be honest and open about holding general elections that will allow millions of young men and women to participate for the first time. Furthermore, the four groups supported the need to expedite a presidential decree setting a date for presidential, PLC and PNC elections. The youth were supported by a decision to launch a campaign to ensure the broadest possible community participation in the upcoming local and national elections and to press for setting a date for general elections as soon as possible.
These training workshops and the subsequent awareness meetings coincide with MIFTAH’s interest in influencing public policies and legislations within its strategic approach to achieve protection, justice and equity in Palestinian society, which in turn promotes the principles of good governance. They were carried out within the project “Working Together as Agents for Change: Towards the Protection and Promotion of Women’s Human Rights” in partnership with the Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling and supported by the EU. The project aims to shed light on the challenges women and girls face in accessing services and the violence they are subjected to including daily violations by the Israeli occupation, especially in marginalized areas in the four districts.
Hanan Said and Tamara Malouf from MIFTAH’s team said the organization was completing a series of interventions through this project, which will promote capacity-building in grassroots organizations and among community activists towards spreading awareness on Palestinian women’s issues. In particular, Said and Malouf emphasized the monitoring of Israeli violations against women and girls in areas where settlement expansion, land confiscation and limitations on movement are pervasive. They also mentioned expanding lobbying and campaign efforts in regards to the gaps in service programs, which MIFTAH previously highlighted. These include social and legal protection and the meagre government spending and foreign funding for these areas, especially in regards to services catering to women and girls.
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.