Workshop Meeting: "People with Disabilities and The Nature of Their Political Participation in Gaza"

Gaza, May 27th, 2013 – The ‘Youth Forum for Unity and Tolerance’ at PalThink for Strategic Studies organized a workshop today entitled “People with Disabilities and Political Participation”. The event was held at the Al-Quds International hotel in Gaza City. Those in attendance included the Secretary General of the Palestinian Legislative council, Mr. Nafez el Madhoun and The Head of Electoral Procedures-Local Office, Mr. Ra’ed el Samouni, Human rights organizations and youth activists.

Mr. Omar Shaban, Founder and Director of PalThink, opened the session by emphasizing the critical role youth with disabilities play and the need to revive the same through participation in the Palestinian political system as an important section of society that cannot be ignored or marginalized under any circumstances.

In his speech, Mr. El Madhoun supported Shaban’s assertions and noted that while there is no legal premise prevent people with disabilities from participating in the political system or encourage discrimination, what lacks is an organized lobby that pushes for their representation in the Palestinian political landscape. He went on note that additionally, rigid and antiquated rules for political participation, lack of political will and public awareness all act as hindrances. As solutions, he encourage a review of laws, especial election laws, and suggested a quota system for those with disabilities.

Mr. el Samouni noted that the electoral committee has an executive role and not a legislative one and therefore its duties are limited to facilitating access for people with disabilities at voting centers. Denying the existence of any barriers prevent their participation in the voting process, he went on to present statistical evidences.

Mr. Ebraheem Erheem spoke on behalf of people with disabilities and emphasized their daily suffering and the discriminatory attitudes of some sections of society, even though they too have struggled, suffered and sacrificed for Palestine. He added that Palestinian needed to move towards become one where people live and participate equally in politics, regardless of their specific differences.

At the end of the workshop, all those in attendance concluded that people with disabilities represent an important sector of the society and affirmed their right to gain access to the political process that included candidacy and voting.

PalThink for Strategic Studies is an independent non-profit, non-political, non-governmental and non-sectarian ‘think and do tank’ that aims to stimulate and inspire rational public discussions and consensus for the well-being of the Palestinians and the Region.

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