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What was your initiative?
Najat: My initiative was to hold a women’s summer camp upon popular demand from the women themselves. It is also in line with Article 5 of the planning form given to us by MIFTAH, which stipulates that we are to “embrace creative, nonconventional initiatives and hence achieve direct goals and not only transient activities for entertainment.” We often bring women to participate in workshops and training but this is all very conventional. So, we wanted to do something new for the women, including a summer camp – a concept everyone has grown accustomed to being for young men and children. This was the first time a women’s summer camp was ever organized.
Tell us a bit about the summer camp
Najat: It lasted eight days, from September 5th to the 12th. There was a real need for such a camp I believe. We wanted women to be introduced to Resolution 1325 and to understand its importance. The women would have been bored by just sitting in on workshops. But when we educated them on the resolution through fun activities, visits to the springs and other sites in the village, they remembered the information easily. We would talk about 1325 in each activity and discuss ways to activate it. I think it was a big success.
How many women joined the camp?
Najat: The original number of participants was 50 but when we tallied the final number we had 56 women who wanted to join. Unfortunately, we couldn’t take them all because the funding only covered 50 women. But we promised them that would we try to allow for more participation in other activities. This is an indicator of how much women wanted to be part of the summer camp, how much they wanted to be involved.
How do you think the women benefited from the summer camp?
Najat: I think the biggest benefit was that women got to know their rights and that this resolution protects them; that the resolution does not only give them a specific right but gives them a number of rights in their homeland. The resolution has been ratified by the UN Security Council and has been adopted and worked with by women around the world, even Israeli women. So why shouldn’t we Palestinian women do the same? After hearing this reasoning, our women were more than eager to participate.
Using 1325 as a springboard, we also branched out into other areas of women’s empowerment, including the social role of women. For example, if a woman cannot make the change she wants in her husband, she can work to make these changes in her sons for the future – what their role is in the home and how to support their future wives.
What was MIFTAH’s role in your initiative?
Najat: MIFTAH funded our initiative and trained me. Without MIFTAH I don’t think we could have been able to carry out our initiative or float the idea of reactivating Resolution 1325. So, I would like to especially thank MIFTAH and its project coordinator, Najwa Yaghi, who cooperated with us from day one and helped us all along.
How did the summer camp impact the women’s cooperative that you run?
After our initiative, the cooperative has become better known among others and has attracted women who are not members in the cooperative to us. We had women from the three villages of Al Nuwaymeh, Dweik Al Tahta and Dweik Al Fouqa come to us. There has also been a request to hold other summer camps in the future.
How has the training you received from MIFTAH affected you and on your efforts to activate Resolution 1325?
Najat: I have participated in many training courses over the past three years. What makes MIFTAH’s training so unique is their trainers and their up-to-date training materials. MIFTAH’s trainer Maysoun Qawasmee is a wonderful trainer and made the training course very comprehensible for us. We felt personally empowered because it felt like she was speaking for all of us. We discussed the resolution and also discussed ways of documenting Israeli attacks and showing documentary films through MIFTAH. We used to watch films about Palestinian suffering under Israeli occupation, about checkpoints and the wall. We saw how affected the women were from these films, especially those that showed other women. The women participating in the training learned how, if they were witness to a violation of a woman, they should film the violation with their mobile phones.
This was an idea that never occurred to these women before. They now realized that they could document any violation against them or any other woman by filming it and sending it to us. We then had our ways of sending it to international organizations so they could be aware of what our women endure.
How would you evaluate MIFTAH’s work among other organizations targeting women?Najat: What I like about MIFTAH is the trust they put in us. I am so pleased with how they trusted our initiative, supported and funded the women’s summer camp. We are always in contact with MIFTAH’s coordinator Ms. Najwa Yaghi and she is always there to provide support and help. MIFTAH is a unique and wonderful organization.