Empowering Civil Society Through Outreach Activities
The overarching goal of our outreach activities is to contribute to fostering peace by assisting Palestinian civil society actors in becoming more visible, valued and influential in their efforts. We focuse our outreach activities mainly in the areas of capacity building in social media skills and strengthening youth in finding a voice.
The Importance of Social Media in Palestinian Territory
More than one out of five of the 4.55 million residents in Palestinian Territory use Facebook. Primarily young people are attracted to social media platforms, and in recent years it has become the number one source of information for them: about 49% of youth do not read any newspapers or magazines. News from people for people is a prevalent trend for spreading information of social and political events. Social media has fundamentally changed the way that individuals, activists, non-profit organizations, governments and movements interact with each other and with their respective communities. Prior to the rise of new media, discussions and debates were very limited and completely monopolized by Palestinian political parties. Today, social media provides room for dissent and open discussion, shaping a new discourse on power and knowledge within Palestinian society.
Social Media for Social Change
Social media has also increasingly become a central source of information for activists and organizers and a powerful tool to initiate social change for civil society organizations. What is special about new media is that it makes it possible for anyone to become an influencer; an online campaign for social change can be established by just about any organization, regardless of financial resources. To support and strengthen civil society actors in their new media skills, together with 7amleh we organized a conference. The motto of the conference was “Social Media for Social Change” and it was a kick-start to supporting civil society actors’ outreach activities by providing the following training: How to improve your new media presence, designing digital campaigns for social change, and how to protect your digital identity.
Youth: Powerless and Helpless?
Palestinian youth constitute about one-third of the Palestinian population. But the young generation is facing severe problems: roughly 44% of young people are unemployed, even though just over half of them hold university degrees. Unemployment and poverty lead young people to frustration and despair, undermines their dignity and creates social and political problems. Youth feel alienated from all that is going on around them; they feel that they are incapable of actively taking part in the activities, discussions and decisions going on around them. They feel powerless.
The youth has a great potential to influence change. But to make this happen, they must first overcome their sense of victimization and helplessness, find their voice and become part of the decision-making process in their respective society. As Palestinian youth currently faces an identity crisis, we work on empowering them to be able to express themselves and share their thoughts and ideas in public. We foster tolerance among the youth, and trust in themselves and in their peers.
Our outreach activities are focused on supporting youth in:
- Finding their voice by starting to use a personal and positive approach
- Supporting youth in developing and sharing their ideas within society
- Supporting youth in developing knowledge and skills that allows them to actively participate in society