Youth Take Leadership in Building New Youth Strategy in Palestine
Sometimes, all it takes is an accessible platform, a few tools and a lot of commitment to set the wheels in motion for a youth strategy to be laid out.
This year, the International Youth Day did not fall short on bringing out that commitment and motivation that the members of NET-MED Youth have been known to have.
Over the course of four days, between the 8 and 14 of August 2016, representatives of youth, civil society and international organizations in Gaza came together for a youth strategy workshop organized by NET-MED Youth and the Higher Council for Youth and Sport (HCYS). The reason? So that youth and experts engage, together, in a brainstorming and feedback session that will lay the foundations of the new National Youth Strategy in Palestine (2017- 2022).
"Within NET-MED Youth we empower young women and men to participate in designing and reviewing the new youth strategy and in giving their feedback on its primary findings related to youth civic participation, employment and media," said Reema Salem, NET-MED Youth Project Coordinator in Gaza. "These workshop sessions also ensure that HCYS is abreast of what youth perceive as important issues to them, because, after all, they are a major human resource for development and key agents for social change and economic growth."
The participants were able to give their feedback on the seven diverse but complementary thematic areas of the strategy: Employment, education, culture, health and environment, civic and political organizations, media and technologies, and sports and recreation. Discussions could not have been any richer.
All participants agreed this first national youth strategy comes at a very crucial time when Palestinian youth are affected by deteriorating social and economic conditions and serious levels of poverty and unemployment.
"We need a national youth strategy that responds to our needs and aspirations and that would increase young people’s access to their rights," said Maryam Abu Alata, member of the NET-MED Youth policies working group in Gaza.
Representatives of the EU, UN agencies and other international organizations present in the workshops stressed on the importance of the effective coordination and cooperation with all relevant line ministries during the design and the implementation of the strategy to achieve effective outcomes for the youth sector. Mainstreaming gender and disability issues also remain a priority and thematic area of the strategy. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure youth have the skills, resources and opportunities to succeed through quality education, access to health care, and employment – among other things.
“As a young woman journalist, I hope this strategy will be able to provide the legal protection for young journalists and to allow for fair media coverage that reflects our ideas," said Noor Swirki, member of NET-MED Youth media working group.
Through the EU-funded NET-MED Youth project, UNESCO will be advocating with other key relevant national authorities for the integration of the main components and recommendations of the youth strategy in the National Policy Agenda. Through NET-MED Youth working groups, an advocacy campaign will be organized in cooperation with relevant youth organizations on the key objectives and main recommendations of the National Youth Strategy, to contribute to its dissemination and implementation.
Activities building skills among youth organizations and young journalists; to enhance youth representation in media and promote freedom of expression, media and information literacy and youth-generated media content.
Activities joining youth organizations, employment experts and different national stakeholders to engage in dialogue and work together on unemployment solutions and skills needs.
Activities empowering youth to participate in the communal and national development, revision and implementation of national youth strategies and public policies.