Perhaps she is not the only female member in Saeer local council, but she is the most active, participating in almost every village council committee there is. Abla Froukh attributes her active presence to the training she received from MIFTAH along with other women social activists as part of the organization’s “Enhancing the Role of Local Council Members in Local Government Issues”, implemented in partnership and close coordination with The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).
Some of the council committees Froukh is currently involved in include: the land appraisal, women and youth, financial, and the educational committees, all of which she says have enriched her experience and knowledge. Back when she became a member in Saeer local council in Hebron in 2013, Froukh admits that, she had no idea about the nature of the work involved; “Today I am more confident in myself and my abilities, largely because of the support I received from MIFTAH and GIZ.”
This support is reflected in the series of activities, which Froukh is now more capable of organizing and managing, focusing on promoting social accountability between citizens and representatives of institutions in the village. This was clear during the recent two-day training session organized by MIFTAH in coordination with Froukh, entitled: “Decision Making and Policy Formulation from a Gender Perspective", for around 34 local council members (28 Females and 6 Males) from different districts as well as for 4 mayors and one deputy mayor from the district. The training aimed at influencing their leadership roles to take gender-responsive decisions to advance their municipal work based on solid understanding of decision making processes and mechanisms inside the local council. To build problem solving skills, the trainer employed case-study based training throughout the process. Additionally, the training provided a highlight on important local council's by-laws, especially article 15 of the LGU’s internal system which includes 27 items that reaffirm the power authority and roles and responsibilities within different functions in the local councils.
Froukh says she could feel the sense of responsibility among the attendees and their support for her as a woman: “The citizens were introduced to their basic rights for services provided by local councils and then put forth their demands to decision-makers,” she said. “This session and what it achieved gave me a lot of confidence and proved that we, as women can play a bigger role in our communities.”
Froukh says this entire experience has shown her ability to give back to her community and to play an active role alongside her male counterparts. Today, Froukh has put in a request with the Ministry of Local Government to renovate the kindergarten in Saeer. While she has not yet been granted the request – a similar one went to Bani Naim, a nearby village – Froukh is not giving up, adding that this is not the only project Saeer is in need of. Froukh has been able to get official approval for the building of a sports field in Saeer and is working to grant laborers more honorary incentives.
Because of her many endeavors, Froukh says it was important for her to learn more about municipality laws and citizens’ rights, something which she had no knowledge of in the past. Today, she says, she knows about her rights and her duties as well, adding that she now urges citizens to demand their rights for themselves by going directly to institutions or ministries or through activities on the ground such as signing petitions.
“The law grants me my rights to services, so why should I fail to demand them?” She also says the latest training workshop not only introduced her to these rights but motivated other members to raise their voices in demanding them.
Froukh is a female member among 11 male members of council and one female council. “This means I must be their equal. I do not stay quiet,” she says.
Her learning experience is not over though. Froukh says she would like more training in information technology. “We always need to learn more. We never stop learning.”