It was 2011 when trainee lawyer and youth activist Hanin Ramadan from Nablus joined the Palestinian Social and Political Active Youth Network. This, she says, was the start of her relationship with MIFTAH. In the following years, she participated in several MIFTAH activities and conferences, the most recent being the “shadowing project” with political or party figures. “I shadowed Dr. Sabri Saydam, deputy head of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council and former presidential advisor on IT affairs”, says Ramadan, noting that Saydam now holds the post of higher education minister.
Ramadan says of MIFTAH’s Amal Project. “At first I wasn’t motivated enough to go through such an experience. But my work with MIFTAH was a motivating factor for me to strengthen my character and see which path I wanted to take. I was more capable of realizing where I wanted to be,” she maintains.
A different way of working
Ramadan says there were noticeable differences between her experience with MIFTAH and with other institutions. “MIFTAH was different in terms of its role in helping youth invest their potentials to realize their aspirations.” She said MIFTAH changed her perspective on institutions that work with youths. “When I began working with them, I was able to take advantage of my own skills and time to work with organizations that combine the practical with the theoretical. I took advantage of this to impact my surroundings and benefit those around me.”
Ramadan continues that MIFTAH helped her pinpoint the field she was most interested in. “One of the activities I participated in was advocating for change in legislation and how to raise the value of citizens.” She says this is what she aspires for – supporting the promotion of citizen values in her community.
She admits she has not yet been able to make radical changes in this regard, but is taking “tactical steps” to reach her goal. “As a political activist and a lawyer, after I participated in the AMAL project I am now convinced that the only way to assert women’s status in Palestinian society, as individuals and as citizens, is through the rule of law and legislation that guarantees public freedoms for citizens,” she says. “Now,” she continues, “I am more focused in my interests and my paths. My goal is to achieve justice among all members of society through legislation.”
Ramadan puts much emphasis on law. “The law must be just and guarantee everyone’s rights,” she maintains. “I can envision myself in decision-making positions in the legislative and legal fields in Palestine,” she admits. “We need this change and I think I can convey a message of equality between all individuals.” She says she is already on her way, feeling more confident and comfortable in the courtroom after initially feeling that it was male-dominated.
Hanin’s shadow experience
Hanin’s shadow personality was Dr. Sabri Saydam, education and higher education minister. “I learned so much from him and his achievements,” she says. “I learned that people have tremendous energy, which could be constantly renewed.” This got her thinking about her own potentials and what she could achieve. “He is in so many fields – he has social positions, he is the head of a board and of course he is education minister.”
She says she also learned other valuable things from Saydam. “I learned love for and belonging with my country,” she says, admitting that she used to consider the idea of immigrating, but not anymore. “AMAL changed my whole way of thinking; I was able to find a ray of hope among the destruction.” She says she was even able to influence those closest to her. “I built up my little sister’s confidence and encouraged her dreams. I learned to be optimistic and to look at the cup as half full.”
“The biggest influence was on me”
“Throughout my participation in the AMAL project, I became bolder and more ‘present’. Shadowing Dr. Saydam helped me break down barriers and consider everything a potential experience and achievement. It gave me the positive energy I needed to succeed.”
Now, Ramadan says, she speaks about the importance of citizenship values and women’s status among her peers, adding that she is certain she has made a change in the way they think. “All my colleagues know I am a women’s and human advocate and I try as much as I can to convey these ideas to them.”
The meaning of change
In response to the question of, “What is the change you seek?” Ramadan answered; “I want change for the sake of a better society; I want to see agents of change on the ground and I can honestly say that MIFTAH has paved the way for this change through its work with youth. MIFTAH puts theory into practice in terms of espousing the concepts of women’s rights, equality and justice – terms of believe in.” This, she says, encouraged her to introduce these ideas to her community, which says is conservative towards women in particular, and does not give them their full rights.
Ramadan urged MIFTAH to continue with the AMAL project and with similar programs that involve various sectors of society included more youths, both men and women.