MIFTAH caps off workshop on social justice in government spending and local elections results
Ramallah – 31/5/2022—MIFTAH recently completed its second round of training as part of its “Working together as agents for change” project in four northern West Bank districts (Tubas, Jenin, Tulkarem and Qalqilya). The latest workshop revolved around citizens’ rights and the political participation of women and youth in local council elections.
The training included a detailed explanation of government expenditures, earmarked for the Ministry of Social Development’s social protection programs and how funds are disbursed for protection programs, shedding light on citizens’ basic and social rights, and promoting the right of access to these services, especially among marginalized sectors. Spending priorities of the Ministry and the nature of its social protection program services were presented and discussed. It also addressed the most significant gaps, which reflect the inability to offer comprehensive social services. These are due to a lack of financial resources, on the one hand, and disregard to the importance of these services as a priority on the government’s agenda, on the other.
In this regard, participants commented that Palestinian society is heavily burdened by the tremendous pressures of the occupation and the difficult living conditions of its people. This, they opined, will lead to even further deterioration, due to the inability of social protection programs to respond to growing social needs, signaling even more marginalization of vulnerable social sectors.
Sahar Al Rikh, from Jenin camp’s popular committee, said the workshop provided candidates with information and skills they did not have before, especially in regards to budgets. This, she said, enlightened candidates on the best use of information during the elections in terms of demanding the rights of their respective communities. This knowledge and information, she continued, can also be useful in questioning the government on these rights, which will strengthen candidates’ positions with their constituents. “Right now, I am capable of demanding the rights of the people I represent,” Al Rikh said. “This is why I ran in the popular committee elections and won. I proved that women are capable and that their voices can achieve the change we want.”
Jamileh Tuma, an activist and member of a women’s rehabilitation association in the town of Qafeen, said the workshop boosted her self-confidence. “For the first time, I can stand in front of a crowd and train with much more confidence than before. The training changed the way I think and if elections are held, I am going to run with a different perspective.”
These training workshops fall within MIFTAH’s strategic approaches to support and empower the involvement of women and youth leaders in public affairs, with a focus on the exercise of citizens’ rights and the political participation of women and youth, especially in general and local elections. Within its EU-funded project, “Working together as agents for change” in partnership with WCLAC, MIFTAH has carried out several interventions geared towards the capacity-building of youth, women, and grassroots organizations, to educate the public on citizens’ rights and the political participation of women and youth in the elections process. The interventions also promote the societal concept of democratic, peaceful transfer of power, whether at the level of local councils or in general elections (legislative and presidential).
The trainings began at the beginning of November 2021, during which around 80 participants (both male and female) were trained on local elections and the political participation of women and youth. They were then resumed in the first week of December, when around 360 meetings were held over two phases.
Furthermore, 16 facilitators from the previous trainings (four from each district) were trained, holding 32 meetings to raise awareness on the elections (comparing the percentage of participation of youth and women in past elections) and on the Ministry of Social Development budget.