MIFTAH
Monday, 4 March. 2024
 
Your Key to Palestine
The Palestinian Initiatives for The Promotoion of Global Dialogue and Democracy
 
 
 

Ramallah 5/12/2022 – MIFTAH recently held an open session entitled, “Proposed amendments to the Local and General Elections Laws to promote the principles of equality and pluralism.”

The conference was opened by MIFTAH Executive Director, Dr. Tahreer Araj, who said the conference was part of MIFTAH’s efforts to promote active political participation among all social sectors, particularly youth and women. She said the objective of this was to follow up on the efforts of civil society institutions in pressuring decision-makers to make the necessary legal amendments that would bolster citizens’ political participation and the principles of democracy. Araj stated that since 2003, MIFTAH has been involved in national efforts to develop the Elections Law through several interventions aimed at achieving political reforms and adopting the proposed amendments to the law.

Several local council members then shared their success stories and experiences in running in the elections and then winning a seat in their local councils. The women also spoke about the social challenges they overcame and how they were determined to serve their communities.

This was followed by several discussions and commentary among the audience and council members before CSO representatives and the Central Elections Commission [CEC] presented the proposed amendments to the law.

During the second session, the speakers showcased the proposed legal amendments to the law and their direct impact on the political participation of women and youth. They maintained that the purpose of these amendments was to arrive at a just elections law that represents the various social sectors and promotes the values of participatory democracy, based on women and youth reaching decision-making positions.

Closing statement

“In conclusion, MIFTAH’s meeting on the proposed amendments to the Local and General Elections Laws posed several core points, which impact the participation of women and youth as members of local councils. It also focused on the challenges these two sectors face, whether in terms of their candidacy, elections campaign or in conducting their tasks as elected members of their local councils. Most of these challenges are linked to social pressures and stereotypes of the role of women in society and family, in addition to the absence of laws and regulations that protect and support the participation and representation of women and youth in local councils.

The most significant challenges women face are as follows:

  • The lack of political will to support the participation of women and youth.
  • Lack of acceptance from the family and community of women representatives in local councils.
  • Lack of acceptance of women’s photos used in election campaigns, whereby some women were subjected to slander, pressure and threats.
  • Reluctance to attend preparatory elections meetings and local council meetings.
  • Limited scope of powers and roles for women in local councils as a result of male attitudes towards women’s participation in the public sphere.
  • Burdensome responsibilities of female members of local councils because of their participation in various committees, which drown them in multiple tasks.

Recommendations:

  • Stressing on the importance of periodical local and general elections and respect for constitutional foundations
  • Adopting a law that reaffirms the principle of equality, protects citizens’ rights and the representation of all social sectors, through initiating a social dialogue on the shape and form of the desired electoral system, with the participation of all parties as such:
    • A law that protects civic peace and does not allow political corruption
    • Determining the use of acclamation lists by social referendum.
    • Lowering the candidacy age to offer opportunities for youth to engage in political life
    • Adopting a 30%-minimum women’s quota a as a stepping-stone to equality in all local councils.
    • Lowering the threshold to allow the participation of small parties and marginalized sectors.
    • Direct election of the president, which calls for expanded dialogue
  • In light of the defunct PLC and slow pace in amending laws, there should be a focus on amending procedures that protect the participation of women and youth, through the following:
    • Reconsideration of women’s ranking in lists so they occupy advanced slots (Nos 2 and 4 as a minimum)
    • Emphasizing respect for the spirit of the law through ensuing at least minimum representation of women inside councils. If a female member resigns, she should be replaced by another female member.
    • Follow-up on the resignations and withdrawals of women from local councils.
    • Stressing on commitment to the code of conduct for local councils and to the role of the council and regulating the relationship between members and the council president.
    • Bolstering the empowerment of women and youth who wish to participate in the elections on issues pertaining to the law, dealing with the media and preparing electoral platforms.

 
 
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