- 13 years
- Over 200,000 youth
- 40+ projects
- 45% men
- 55% women
Although traditionally active, involved, and engaged in leadership roles in their communities, many young people are now idle, disenchanted, and disengaged. They lack opportunities due to the strictures of occupation in Palestine and are often uninspired to conduct their own initiatives as well. As youth (aged 15-29) comprise 30% of the population, they are a force that must be mobilised to build a democratic, sustainable, socially active, and forward-thinking Palestinian society.
Active citizens are those that get involved in their local communities, participate in democratic processes at all levels, and engage with issues bigger than themselves. In Palestine, youth face both the strictures of Israeli occupation and the democratic deficit within Palestine, which has led to greater rights violations.
Sharek takes a human rights-based approach to all of its initiatives, encouraging long-term and sustainable change with youth at the forefront. To this end, we encourage young people's participation in both formal and informal political processes to effectuate real change at the local and national levels, in a manner that will benefit the entire society. Weensure a special emphasis at all times on young women, noting that Palestine has one of the lowest rates of representation of women in decision-making roles in the entire Arab world at only 18%.
Through Sharek, young people find a place where they can meet other youth from different areas, religions, beliefs, classes, and with whom they have an opportunity to exchange ideas, discover new ways of thinking, and break down internal differences. All our initiatives are underscored by a strong belief in volunteerism and the important role it will play in Palestine's eventual transition to an independent, democratic, autonomous state.
Through our active citizenship programmes, we:
- Develop educational programmes for young people to raise their awareness of democratic processes, human rights, and participation
- Build the capacity of young people to become leaders and frontrunners of Palestinian development
- Encourage and support youth-led community-based activities that benefit both youth and the wider community
Our innovative initiatives are grounded in the belief that young people are not only the future, but are also the present and must be meaningfully engaged for the organic and sustainable development of Palestine.
Name: The Youth Village
Background: Young people in Palestine have limited options when it comes to recreational activities or healthy entertainment. There are few parks, green, or open spaces, and little to do outside of work or school.This can often lead young people to making unhealthy decisions and choices. Finding ways toprovide youth with healthy alternatives is difficult, especially when land itself comes at a premium.
Project Summary: Located in the scenic village of KufrNa'meh, just 13km from Ramallah, lies Sharek Youth Forum's new intervention, the national Youth Village. Established on 35 dunums of unusedland in Areas B and C, the educational, sports, and entertainment village is unprecedented in Palestine.With high unemployment and low civic participation in Palestine, youth are often at a loss of what to do with their time.
The outdoor youth village provides an alternative for many young people who are out of work, lack relevant skills, and do not have access to any healthy and positive recreational or learning activities. What makes the space truly unique is that it is also an eco-village, where all the structures have been developed out of biodegradable materials such as mud, straw, glass bottles etc., fostering notions of environmentalism and sustainability among youth. The village utilizes the stunning landscape paired with experiential learning methods to work with young people in a unique and innovative way, training them as future leaders using both mental and physical challenges.
Many Palestinian youth have never even been out of their own city or village, and this outdoor activity space brings youth of all economic backgrounds, religions, political affiliations, and genders to come together for the first time, to be exposed to new ideas and spaces, to learn from one another, and to develop strong and positive connections between cities.
Name: "Lets stand together project"
Background: From past experience, we have seen that youth initiatives are an extremely successful means of engaging and empowering youth to be actively involved in their communities.
Project Summary: Through this project, we will fund 400 small youth initiatives in partnership with UNFPA, geographically spread across every governorate in the West Bank.Providing young people with autonomy over their own projects will allow them to develop the skills necessary to succeed in their personal and professional lives. They will learn to be able to plan, prepare, implement, and critically assess community development projects, and will develop necessary life skills, such as teamwork, cooperation, communication, and interpersonal skills.
Name: Combat Gender-Based Violence Through Mobile Theatre
Background: According to the 2011-2019 Ministry of Women's Affairs' National Strategy to Combat Violence against Women, women face violence both at the institutional and societal level. The oppressive policies of the Israeli occupation have led to a double oppression, increasing the general level of violence in society by destroying infrastructure and endangering women's security, as well as contributing to a patriarchal culture which continues to oppress women.
Project Summary: Piloting an innovative approach to community sensitization by using mobile street theatre and discussion workshops, this project will increase awareness of gender-based violence and reduce GBV in all of its forms, through early preventative intervention and advocacy. Through the emotive power of theatre, this project engages community members at all levels, bringing them together and allowing each audience member to experience the performance internally. Along with this, young people will also be trained as citizen activists to educate communities through their performances, becoming drivers of positive social change.
Name: Affordable Dental Care
Background: Many Bedouin communities are geographically and physically isolated. They have little access to quality medical care and thus are known to have a poorer standard of living and life expectancy than the general population.
Project Summary: In cooperation with dentistry students from Al Quds University, we have provided dental care awareness activities and free dental checks to children and their parents in 4 communities in the Jerusalem and Jericho governorates. If any child needs additional dental work, they are referred to the Abu Dis university clinic. Providing dental care through the student training program has ensured low costs for any additional care needed. 10 doctors gave their time and expertise pro bono, in order to contribute to this initiative. Furthermore, by targeting children we ensure that the training will have a beneficial impact on the entire community, because they will share the information and their experiences, as well as pass on what they've learned.
Name: Promoting Democracy with Youth
Background: In comparison to peers abroad, Palestinian youth often lack the ability and confidence to advocate for themselves. Youth have little voice in the Palestinian political scene, and feel disconnected from politics. Palestinian youth also lack opportunity for dialogue with others from different political and geographical backgrounds, due to restrictions on freedom of movement and intra-Palestinian political divisions.
Project Summary: This project will build the capacity of politically-engaged youth leaders to advocate and engage politically, building bridges with youth from different backgrounds. Working with 180 youth from three universities, three Youth Local Councils (YLCs), and three youth political parties, we will hold dialogue trainings and events. Through a 3-part training curriculum designed by a consultant expert in experiential learning, we will train youth as advocates, increasing their ability to influence local councils and political parties in future. The curriculum will use physical and mental challenges and debate and dialogue to develop communication, team-work, leadership and other skills. The participants will gain exposure to new perspectives through guest speakers, including political leaders. We foster a culture of dialogue, providing participants with a safe space to communicate openly. The training will take place in Sharek'syouth village in KufrNa'meh, strategically located in Areas B and C in the least developed part of the West Bank. This activity will test new experiential forms of dialogue training, as well as the facilities of the youth village.
Name: Youth Local Councils
Background: Palestinian youth are some of the most politicized youth in the world. However, years of exploitation of young people's efforts by political factions and failure to deliver any significant political change has led many of today's youth to withdraw from political participation. Youth disillusionment with political and social participation has negatively impacted other areas of society, including the decline of broader civic and social participation among Palestinian young people in recent years.
Project Summary: Through a network of 34 Youth Local Councils, Sharek aims to cultivate a culture of democracy and good governance in Palestine, promoting youth engagement in decision-making, policy setting, and democratic processes in local government. These YLCs will engage closely with their local government partner (Municipality or Local Council), in order to provide the youth perspective, as well as act as a check on their government. By enhancing youth representation at this scale, this will strengthen democratic ideas and values among youth. Over time, these YLCs will be extended to further locations across the West Bank through democratic and transparent elections.
Background: Bedouin communities are among the most heavily marginalised in Palestine, suffering from social, economic, and political exclusion. Their physical isolation, and longstanding community practices leave the Bedouin with little access to or awareness of the justice system, and out of the education system. Often this affects women more negatively than men.
Project Summary: Sharek has been developing its relationship with many Bedouin communities in recent years, in order to build up trust and gain a better, first-hand understanding of the many challenges that they face. To this end, we began the project with a situation analysis. This project is one of the major interventions we have conducted in consultation with leaders within these communities.
Bedouin access to the justice system is severely limited due to their physical and psychological isolation from mainstream society. Our intervention thus works to encourage Bedouins to utilise the formal justice system within Palestine and providing them with the tools to do so; the initiative trains leaders in how to access legal information and navigate the complex justice system, how to utilise family courts, criminal courts, and domestic police to their benefit, and gain trust in the formal legal system over the clan courts and internal community solutions that often negatively impact children and women the most.T hroughout all of these activities, a special emphasis is put on gender based violence, and gender biased educational practices.
Name: You Know: Promoting Freedom of Expression and Right to Information through Technology
Background: There is a lack of transparency and accountability in Palestine, in any sector (including economic, political, social, health etc with no forum for citizens to directly address decision-makers, and no Right to Information (RTI) law.
Project Summary: The YouKnow platform provides an opportunity to educate young people on their role in holding decision-makers to account; to ensure that citizens are aware of their rights within a democratic society. YouKnow is Palestine's first digital platform connecting journalists, bloggers, activists, and citizens with decision makers, both local and national, creating a space for free expression and dialogue. This helps foster a culture of transparency and accountability, providing individuals with access to information and connecting them to the relevant authority when needed. Through this project, we have raised awareness of democratic processes and by specifically targeting young people (comprising 30% of the total population), we are able to mobilize a powerful force for change.