As part of Pal-Think’s role in strengthening the capacity of Palestinian youth in democracy and human rights issues, the Civic Education Board, under the auspices of Pal-Think, carried out five awareness-raising meetings targeting Palestinian university students in the Gaza Strip in collaboration with Palestinian universities and civil society institutions. These meetings focused on the issues of democracy, political participation, human rights and gender-based violence in Palestine.
It is worth noting that this is part of the project “Civic Education,” funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which is being implemented by Pal-Think for Strategic Studies.
The meeting was opened by the lawyer Bilal Al Najjar from Pal-Think. He welcomed the attendance and introduced Pal-Think and the civic education project. Besides, the main activities carried out during this project. He also spoke about the Manual of Civic Education developed within the framework of the Civic Education Project and its purpose. He reviewed the main topics and issues covered in the Manual. He further called on all attendees to access the Pal Think Webpage in order to gain greater access to it and to make use of the information contained therein.
The first event, which was moderated by the member of the Civic Education Board, Ms Aya Ashour, was entitled “Gender-based violence and its impact on Palestinian society,” on Monday, 26 April 2021, at the Youth and Environment Association of Deir Al-Balah City, which spoke during the meeting about the definition of gender-based violence and the analysis of its forms and causes in Palestinian society.
The meeting also emphasized that the responsibility for combating violence rests with all, whether the State, which must declare laws to ensure protection for women who are victims of violence and to punish perpetrators of violence. It is also the responsibility of institutions to carry out activities that promote community awareness of the dangers of gender-based violence, as well as the responsibility of citizens to confront violence and to report it to the competent authorities at the moment of its occurrence.
The second meeting, entitled ” youth political participation and its importance”, was held on Sunday, 30 May 2021, at the Yafa Youth Centre in Khanyuns Province, which was run by the Civic Education Board member, Ms Aya Abu Hadith, who spoke during the meeting about the concept of political participation, thereby indicating the forms and levels of political participation and the characteristics and motives of political participation.
She also spoke about the determinants of political participation by Palestinian youth, the requirements for active political participation, the role of young people in political participation and the potential for active political participation by youth. Besides, new perspectives for youth participation in national issues were also presented.
As for the third meeting, it was entitled “The Role of University Students in Promoting Political Participation in Palestinian Society,” which was moderated on Monday, 31 May 2021, by a member of the Board, Ms Aya Khvajah at the University of Gaza, South Branch, in the presence of a number of university students.
The meeting discussed the concept, objectives, components and constraints of political participation in Palestinian society, reviewed the concept and proportions of youth in Palestinian society and focused on the obstacles faced by young people in terms of political participation and how to make use of the tools available to enable the participation of young people in Palestinian society.
Some legal texts contained in international human rights conventions and the Palestinian legal system emphasizing the principle of political participation were also reviewed.
The fourth meeting was entitled “Democracy and the Palestinian electoral system,” which was moderated by a member of the Board, Mr Abdallah Hasanian, on Tuesday, 1 June 2021, at the National Assembly for Democracy and Law in Rafah Province.
The concept of democracy and the stages of development of the idea of democracy have been discussed. The principles, objectives and means of achieving democracy have also been reviewed, and international and domestic legal texts have been strengthened and confirmed.
The fifth meeting, entitled “Democracy and Human Rights,” was moderated by a member of the Board, Mr Osama Naim, on Wednesday, 2 June 2021, at the Beit Hanoun Family Development Association.
During the meeting, Naim spoke about the definition of democracy and the legal framework governing it, its components, objectives and obstacles, as well as his focus on the concept of political participation and its importance in Palestinian society, and about human rights, its definition, development, principles and components of the International Bill of Human Rights.
The facilitators of the outreach meetings are a group of university students trained by Pal-Think Organization as part of an intensive training programme that lasted for two continuous weeks, focusing on the issues of democracy, human rights and governance in Palestine and the principles of impartiality, transparency and gender-based violence.