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Building the capacity of women holding local council seats

Civic Forum Institute and the British Consulate in Jerusalem celebrate the successes of women local council members in the West Bank.

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Women
Women memebrs of local councils

Civic Forum Institute and women council members from throughout the West Bank today, celebrated the successes of the project Building the Capacity of Women Holding Local Council Seats. The project, which began in November 2012 and was funded by the British Consulate in Jerusalem, has worked with over 450 women, from all regions, following their election to their local council, with the aim of supporting them to be able to play a more active role in the council’s work.

The British Consul General, Sir Vincent Fean, said:

I am delighted that the British Government has helped to enhance the role of Palestinian women in local councils by supporting the excellent work of the Civic Forum Institute across the West Bank. Local councils are the bedrock of Palestinian democracy, and an essential part of Palestinian state-building efforts. Increasing the participation of highly competent Palestinian women in local government is a vital first step towards strengthened female participation in the Palestinian Legislative Council when national elections are held – soon, we hope. Among the 440 women who made good use of this practical training programme will be the future Hanan Ashrawi or Vera Baboun of Palestinian politics. The British Consulate General is honoured to be associated with this noble endeavour to help dynamic Palestinian women to play their full part in Palestinian governance. I have the greatest respect for the competence, determination and political and administrative skills of the Palestinian women who have completed this training. May they grow in number, and in their positive influence on the Palestinian democratic system.

With the cooperation of the Ministry of Local Government, CFI offered training in topics including local council laws, financial management, communication skills, advocacy and networking, public relations and women’s right, and each participating woman had the opportunity to attend four different workshops. One woman, from the Nablus area, said:

before joining the local council I didn’t have a clear understanding of my role, and I was nervous about doing a good job. The training has increased my confidence, helped me reflect on my experience and guided me as I start down the path of a local councillor.

The closing event of the project was attended by representatives of different Ministries, the international community and most importantly, around 60 of the project’s participants. Welcoming them Muhammed Abu Diab, Director of CFI, said:

today’s event is about the women who have made this project a success, both those you see here today and the wider group they represent. CFI are thrilled to have had the opportunity to work with them, to give them help and support in their new role as councillors. We hope to build on the foundations laid through this training, through further projects aimed at strengthening both the women themselves and the wider communities that they serve.

The attending audience heard presentations from each of the three West Bank regions, highlighting the challenges and opportunities they face as councillors, the benefits they received from the project activities, their vision for local council development in Palestine and future support they would like to request from CFI and other organisations.

A representative from the Hebron area said:

Customs and traditions are a major obstacle in our society and have a negative impact on the role of women. We understand the importance of the presence of women in decision-making positions, and the current quota system has forced society to allow us this presence. Projects like this provide real opportunities for us to build our capacities and play a more active role, in the hope that one day women will not need quotas and laws to play an equal role in their country’s development.

For more information about this, and other CFI projects, please contact Juliana Tams on 02-2420733 or julie@cfip.org.

Published 30 May 2013