MIFTAH caps off training with university student councils on political participation, democracy and good governance
September 06, 2017

As part of its efforts over the years to guarantee continuity and ongoing collective action to achieve the goals and vision of the “Palestinian Political and Social Active Youth Network” to promote youth leadership role in leading change and contribute in building the State of Palestine. MIFTAH recently capped off a training workshop with the youth network and members of university student councils, on political participation, democracy and good governance. The workshop was conducted with support from the Arab-Palestinian Investment Company (APIC) and the participation of representatives from Palestinian universities student councils.

MIFTAH project coordinator Hassan Mahareeq explained that the training workshop was conducted over the course of three days with a focus on the concept of political participation and mechanisms of implementation. He said they also addressed this concept’s repercussions on the decision-making process in modern systems in addition to political rights and their relation to citizen duties and responsibilities. He continued that they discussed the historical and cultural context of the emergence of democratic systems through showcasing international experiences in this regard. The participants were thus offered the necessary knowledge and skills for real political participation among youth groups within the various factions, therefore allowing them to better introduce the concepts of democracy and good governance in their political and union activities within student councils. The student council representatives were also involved in the political youth document that was developed with the participation of student block representatives and youth leaders, to push for its ratification as a unified reference and a platform for dialogue. The ultimate goal of this document is to find common denominators that support youth efforts in reaching decision-making positions and being represented in political action and in national dialogue circles.

Youth activist and member of Al Najah University’s student council Ahmad Obeid talked about his experience from the workshop and its impact on him. “During the workshop, barriers were broken between the different representatives of student councils who were further introduced to the concept of democracy. Our understanding of this concept was considerably enriched,” he said, adding that they are trying to integrate these concepts in their union work at the university. “I can now say I have a much better understanding of the components of democracy and concepts of liberalism and ways of integrating them into institutions where youths are at the center,” Obeid said. “We left the training workshop with much better skills for communicating with other parties.” On political participation in Palestine, Obeid said: “There is no real participation here; we have it in theory but not in practice,” saying that during the workshop, the participants tried to uncover the reasons why this is not implemented and find solutions for integrating it in political factions outside of the university in coordination with the Palestinian Youth Network. “We came up with the political youth document which will be presented at a later stage to all political factions and bodies in the country,” he maintained.

Hanin Salameh, a youth activist with a Master’s degree in Law said the workshop confirmed to her that democracy can be implemented in Palestinian society given that it’s cultured and aware youth sector. “This workshop really added to my knowledge at the personal level in terms of the concepts of good governance, political participation, women and youth, democracy and liberalism. My understanding of these concepts was deepened and enriched, which is reflected in how I behave in society and my knowledge of my duties and rights to promote good citizenship,” Salameh says. She goes on that the training workshop positively deepened her conviction that youth can take on a leadership role in society through their participation in political life and through being represented in decision-making positions.

The workshop was conducted as part of MIFTAH’s strategic goal of promoting good governance in Palestine through the promotion of youth participation in policy formulation and decision making. Since 2003, MIFTAH has carried out its program for supporting young leaders, which is aimed at preparing competent youths who are ready and qualified to be influential at the local and national level and are able to exercise their role in leading change through integrating youth leaders in decision and policy making processes with the ultimate goal of creating a democratic and civil Palestinian society.