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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 08, 2019
By MIFTAH

Ramallah MIFTAH recently completed a series of training workshops over 12 days in various districts for supporting womens participation in the Palestinian Legislative Council [PLC] elections as candidates. The training was part of MIFTAHs project Support Women Participation in Public Life, which MIFTAH implements with funding from the Norwegian Representative Office, targeting local communities and young women leaders to promote the principle of peaceful transfer of power through the ballot box. It also aims to raise Palestinian public awareness regarding the exercise of democracy and to promote the principle of active citizenship through freedom of opinion, the right to choose and run in elections.

The training targeted women who have the desire, drive and readiness to participate in PLC elections in the northern, central and southern districts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. A total of 50 women participated along with MIFTAHs coordinators from the various districts. The training program showcased the electoral systems and their pros and cons. It also focused on the discussion of electoral laws, the mechanisms and tools for monitoring elections, the foundations and criteria for this monitoring and the type of monitors, in addition to the various types of election campaigns and how to build lobbying alliances.

The training program also entailed ways of dealing with the media, the points to pay attention to during interviews, how to opt for diplomatic responses in press interviews, how to prepare for an interview and speech and body language skills.

One participant from Nablus, Insaf Odeh, said the training revealed much capability among the women proving they could run in PLC elections. She also said it offered them new skills and information on subjects pertaining to elections and created interaction among the participants who also gained knowledge and experience from their colleagues. This is especially since practical training, and not only theory, was an important part of the course, Odeh said.

Abeer Zakarneh, a womens activist from Jenin, stressed on the importance of the training in terms of empowering the participants at the level of social and community participation. She said it allowed them to become involved in their communities, including running for elections, in addition to learning from the experiences of other women in the group. This boosted their confidence to become part of the political process and in their community; it gave them the courage to become more involved in their factions and parties as well, she said.

Meanwhile, MIFTAH coordinator in the Gaza Strip, Shadia Al Ghoul spoke about the workshops recommendations including: establishing a Facebook group entitled Inspirational leaders that includes the trainers and participants. The group will publish information and laws regarding elections and their assessment of how much the participants benefited from the workshop. The trainees now have the keys to educate themselves on new subjects, but they still need information and education on Palestinian laws and legislation especially regarding women. They are all looking forward to attending more awareness workshops on elections which was one of their recommendations, Al Ghoul said.

Furthermore, elections and media campaign expert Lubna Al Ashqar described the training as being important and qualitative for the capacity-building of women who showed interest and readiness to run in PLC elections if and when they are announced. She said many of the participants were perfectly capable of being part of political bodies, especially since they are already members of political parties, are active on the ground and enjoy certain status in society. The training concluded with a group of recommendations, particularly: follow-up with these groups in order to choose one group of women who have the best chances of being part of this experience in order to increase their capabilities in the necessary areas. Also, to work individually with some of the participants who also have the chance to run in order to strengthen these chances within their political parties. Most of the participants recommended that a training of trainers is conducted for the groups so they would be able to convey this information and knowledge to the women in their respective areas. Al Ashqar maintained.

These interventions are part of MIFTAHs strategic approach in supporting the role of women leaders, promoting their participation in political life and creating a political and legislative climate where women can rise to decision- making positions in the Palestinian political system.

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