Public Debate Session: The Limited Access of Youth and its Impact on the Democratization Process 

With the participation of a number of youth activists and members of the Advisory Board of “Rooftop-Debate” Project, the Palestinian Association for Empowerment and Local Development - REFORM held a public debate session on the impact of the limited access youth on the democratic transformation process. This session aimed at discussing available opportunities and spaces for youth, and identifying the changes that hinder their participation in democratic processes, to improve the their representation in the democratic systems and promoting a pluralistic supportive environment for democratic transformation .

Project Coordinator at REFORM, Ms. Rawan Sharqawi, welcomed the audience and stated that this project aims to project aims to rethink the nature of the social contract, enhance the participation of various community components, improve representation systems and establish a pluralistic environment that promotes the active citizenship. To do so, the project seeks to bring together both civil society and official actors in a participatory processes, which frame relationships between individuals, their communities and governing bodies on the one hand, and engage the target audience in in-depth analytical processes capable of providing constructive criticism related to governance values, laws, Related social awareness on the other hand.

Projects Manager at Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS), Ms. Abeer Zaghari, stated that KAS is supporting this project in line with its new vision for supporting youth projects. She also said that KAS is currently contributing along with local partners to establishing platforms that encourage dialogue among Palestinian youth, and enable them of voicing out their most important issues and concerns in various political, social, economic and fields.

The participants reflected on the available opportunities and spaces for youth that enable them to participate effectively in political and social life and stated that the democratic process is deficient. Therefore, they called for developing policies that are more responsive to the needs of youth by establishing interactive platforms that allow them to perform an in-depth analysis of their communities, thus, identify their needs and lobby for the implementation of public policies that supports their participation in different spheres.

Participants also tackled the problem of unequal access to opportunities and its impact on the reluctance of youth to participate in political and social life, as well as the lack of freedom of expression that limits their ability to express the obstacles they face and participate effectively in socio-political spheres.

On the other hand, participants affirmed that political participation can only be achieved through social participation. Therefore, they suggested providing youth with empowerment and capacity building trainings to enable them of combating social obstacles and ingrained stereotypes related to their assumed roles within society.

At the end of the session, participants highlighted the necessity of implementing youth simulation programs, through which, they can simulate the experiences of youth during the nineties. They also called for reviewing laws and policy papers, conducting advocacy campaigns to enhance their access to decision-making processes as well as strengthen the role of student movements in Palestinian universities to raise awareness among students on the importance of political and social participation.

This activity is part of The “Rooftop Debate – Drivers of Political Change” project aims to create a network of powerful social and political young leaders and equip them with supporting tools that enable them to create social change by directing them to find solutions to their problems and concerns, which promotes social cohesion, ensures pluralism and strengthens civil peace within society. The project also seeks to provide safe and interactive platforms that connect young activists with representatives of Government bodies and civil society organizations, in order to capacitate youth to voice out their concerns and engage in shaping public policies that are more responsive to their social and political needs.

This project is implemented in cooperation with Konrad Adenauer Foundation