The Women in Action project created an opportunity for young women from Britain and Palestine to meet, learn about each other’s lives and explore ways that young women from both countries can be active together on women’s and human rights issues. In February/ March 2014, thirteen Palestinian young women and two leaders joined a British group of the same size for ten days during which they learned about the lives of women in the other country. Together they celebrated International Women’s day in Northampton and several areas of London, and made materials and an action plan for shared activities in the future.
The project was organised by Camden Abu Dis Friendship Association with Dar Assadaqa, Abu Dis. Some of our partners from the Britain-Palestine Twinning Network also took part in this project: Northampton-Al Bireh, Hackney-Beit Sourik, Brent-Sawahreh and South East London-Beit Fourik. This means that women from all over the West Bank and from the Midlands and South England were able to meet together and take part in the project.
Before the exchange the women from Palestine and Britain prepared pictures and presentations to show the other group and each planned a special day of activities focusing on women’s lives in their own country. At the beginning of the exchange visit, the group stayed together in the British countryside near Northampton. Here they ran the ‘British Day’ and ‘Palestinian Day’ that the groups had previously organised. There were outings, discussion workshops, film shows and activities of many sorts. On the third day, they went in groups to meet women’s groups in Northampton, and in the evening held an open evening for local women and members of the Northampton-Al Bireh twinning group. This evening was a celebration of Palestinian culture. Together, the women reviewed what they had learned and planned for the main part of the project.
They then travelled to London where they found out about the city, young women’s lives and the ways that different groups involve young women and encourage them to be active. They worked in groups and met women’s organisations, schools and university women’s societies across London. Each afternoon they met as a whole group for a feedback meeting and to gather ideas to be put on the project blog. This would later be put together with photographs, interviews and learning from the visit to make a bilingual newspaper from the project that could help to carry on its work.
Each partner group organised a celebration for International Women’s Day in its area. This meant several evenings of talks, songs, food and story-telling. The final project day was a public event on International Women’s Day itself. This included presentations by the young women, workshops discussing women’s and human rights issues and building an action plan for the following year. In the evening there were further celebrations for International Women’s Day itself.
The work done by the participants during the exchange will be prepared as a bilingual magazine to present to people formally in both countries during the summer of 2014, when the women will also be presented with Youthpass certificates. We plan to do this on the same day in both countries.
Our previous Youth in Action projects have helped to build and strengthen twinning links between organisations in Palestine and Britain. This programme is a further step in the same direction. Contact between the participants and their organisation will continue after the exchange; the magazine made will be launched and disseminated in both countries. The workshops and discussions held throughout the project have identified practical steps to strengthen links between young women’s and students’ organisations in London and Palestine and this will lead on to future projects.