The young participants identified several cultural and structural gaps that exist in Palestine that negatively affect social harmony.
WOMEN’S INVOLVEMENT IN PUBLIC LIFE
The Palestinian Association for Empowerment and Local Development- REFORM, concluded two training sessions entitled “Mechanisms to promote the participation of women in the Palestinian society”, which took place over 6 days with the participation of 45 community activists from Hebron, Jericho, Ramallah and Qalqilya governorates.
The training sessions, using the social transformation methodology, focused on analyzing the power relations between different social components, especially those that regulate the relationship between women and men. The participants discussed mechanisms to combat gender-based violence along with the development of a value system that is capable of breaking stereotypes towards women. Further, the training allowed the development of the participants’ awareness of the importance regarding women’s involvement in public life, while enabling them to exercise their natural role.
The participants were introduced the concept of basic human needs and civil rights and engaged in in-depth analysis of power relations between different social groups. They are determined to increase the cultural and structural awareness related to women’s issues in Palestinian society.
WOMEN’S LOW PARTICIPATION RATE
Regarding the significance of this training, the project coordinator at REFORM, Rawan Sharqawi, pointed out that women’s participation rate in public life is limited compared to men; where 82% of judges are men compared to 18% women, 73% of lawyers are men compared to 27% women, 80% of prosecutors are men and 20% are women, and 25% of engineers registered in the Syndicate of Engineers are women compared to 75% of men. As for the members of the student councils in the West Bank universities, the percentage of female students reached 31% compared to 69% of male students. Therefore, we note that the participation rate of women at the senior levels and decision-making centers is still in place, but this rate is not compatible with the proportion of capable women in the Palestinian society.
SOCIAL BARRIERS RESTRICT WOMEN’S FREEDOM
The training focused on social issues, their causes and impacts on women’s political and community participation through monitoring and analyzing social shifts and identity-based contradictions. Also, a range of personal experiences were discussed concerning the fight against polarization based on political affiliation, geography or even gender.
At the end of the training, the targeted young men and women identified several cultural and structural gaps that exist in Palestine that negatively affect social harmony. They also aspire to develop tools that challenge those social barriers which contribute to limiting women’s ability to make choices and exclude them from active participation in all forms.
The analysis showed patterns of social and cultural exclusion of women, as reflected in public policies that promote women’s participation in formal processes using a community-based approach. This training contributed to transforming social, cultural, and structural norms that hinder women’s participation in political life and contribute to maximizing partnership between women and men.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
This training is part of the “Fostering Social inclusion and gender equality within Palestinian society through tackling gender stereotypes” project. It aims to counter the discriminatory and exclusionary practices and attitudes that contribute to gender inequality, by providing safe spaces for marginalized groups, especially women and youth, to discuss gender-based societal issues, and to improve the exchange of experiences between various Palestinian community components, thus enhancing social cohesion.