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A Vision for Palestinian Womens Rights Organizations based on the Global Study on the Implementation of UNSCR 1325
(Ten strategies for tackling issues pertaining to Women, Peace and Security)
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Date posted: May 14, 2015
By MIFTAH

Ramallah This was no ordinary experience for university student Lana Baker from the village of Qira in the Salfeet district. Even her work inside her university union and political faction could not equal this.

In AMALs shadow opportunity program, Baker was paired with AMAN Commissioner Dr. Azmi Shuaibi, a well-known leader in the political, social and institutional realms. She was given the opportunity to shadow him at AMAN and in his political meetings and activities outside the organization, enriching her experience as to how Palestinian leaders operate.

At first I was scared to shadow a leader as major as Dr. Shuaibi, Baker says. Before I did it, I even thought it would be a waste of time, that someone like him viewed youth as people who did not have enough experience. She admits to her mistake now, saying once she met Shuaibi she realized he had tremendous faith in the role of youth and in their right to participate in decision making.

The experience was so good, Baker says she hopes the program will continue and expand, including more and more youths, both men and women.

Human relations come first

What struck her the most about Shuaibi she says, was his focus on human relationships between the employees. He motivates and supports them, Baker says. He believes that social relationships between people is what creates a supportive public, particularly in fighting corruption. I saw how focused he was on details with people who came for his counsel and how he drew up and assessed action plans.

Baker says Dr. Shuaibi emphasized to her the importance of acquiring knowledge in order to wield influence and to participate in decision making. She says she learned a lot about combatting corruption, Dr. Shuaibis field of expertise. He told me corruption is not limited to the financial, but there is also administrative, political and social corruption, all of which he maintained must be exposed.

Baker shadowed Dr. Shuaibi for almost three weeks and participated in more than 12 meetings with him. This experience gave me a push to work harder, and I now assert myself much more within my political faction when decisions are being made, she says.

Next time around

Still, as much as Baker enjoyed and learned from her time with Dr. Shuaibi, she says her goal had been to shadow a woman leader so that she could convey her message through her, especially concerning the needs of youth. This is what she hopes for if she is given a second opportunity to shadow a leader, in addition to hoping the project would include even more young women. With more lobbying and advocacy, we can move forward as young women leaders, addressing the needs of youth and facing challenges regardless of how big.

MIFTAHs role

Lana Baker says what sets MIFTAH apart from other NGOs in Palestine is that its work is accumulative, in that it targets youth in its workshops and programs and gives them empowering information over time before it offers them the chance to put these information and skills to use. Baker would know since she has been working with the organization for over three years.

Today, Baker is a third year student at Al Quds Open University studying social services and is a member of the Palestinian Politically and Socially Active Youth Network. Bakers political faction is one that aims to promote the role of youth in decision making positions and focuses on womens issues such as: gender-based violence.

She says after participating in MIFTAHs workshops, she found the confidence to move up in her student bloc and also nominated herself for village council elections in Qira. I was the youngest nominee, she says proudly. Her mother was also elected into the village council after the 2007 elections until 2009.

AMAL Project

AMAL project coordinator Abeer Zaghari says the shadow project was implemented by MIFTAH in partnership with three local organizations: the Womens Affairs Center, the Womens Center for Legal and Social Counseling and the Palestinian Working Womens Society for Development. OXFAM is also a partner, with funding from SIDA.

The goal of the project is to raise awareness among women and youth in marginalized areas at the level of political, social and economic rights so they are more confident in making their voices heard and can assume leadership roles in various fields (family, community and the national and regional levels). It is also aimed at advancing the skills of womens institutions and strengthening their ability to defend womens rights and influence decision making. This entails raising the awareness of decision-makers and people of influence including social leaders, journalists, political factions and youth politicians to the needs and priorities of women.

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