The Palestinian Youth Association for Leadership and Rights Activation- PYALARA
The Palestinian Youth Association for Leadership and Rights Activation – PYALARA – was established by a group of Palestinian young professionals in 1999 as a youth-oriented organization. It seeks to activate and empower young Palestinians both young men and women between thirteen and twenty-five years and equip them with the necessary skills and tools that would enable them to address their issues, needs and rights. In this way, they contribute towards ending the occupation and creating stepping-stones towards building a democratic nation.
PYALARA develops its programs based on a community achievement model which views children and youth as having the insights, capability and talent needed to solve their own problems and contribute to the development of Palestine. Our approach focuses on the practical work to solve society’s problems. The decision cannot only be made from the top down. Rather, young people themselves need to work together to identify issues and diagnose problems to effect political change. We believe that by engaging children and young people in the process of improving their own lives we can both bring about immediate change in the targeted communities and can create a better future for children and young people in Palestine.
PYALARA has the issue of young Palestinian’s rights, participation and inclusion in the decision making process at the core of its work. We have been working on empowering and enhancing the capacities of young Palestinians on the national level on their rights and community engagement techniques along with rebuilding their resilience through activating their role in the society, improving their living conditions and granting them independent media forums through which they can interact, express their issues and advocate for their rights
PYALARA envisions a world of active, engaged young people who are empowered to develop their potential, and realize their rights.
PYALARA protects and promotes children and young Palestinians’ rights as stipulated in national and international conventions. They intend to tackle issues and practices that hinder the opportunities of Palestinian Youth such as gender inequality in Palestinian society through advocacy campaigns and policy change.
The Strategic Objectives of PYALARA are to:
PYLARA intends to develop civic engagement, participation and skills of young Palestinians between the ages of thirteen and twenty-five (with a gender-sensitive dimension) to lead the process of social, political and economic change. The organization works within their communities as well as society, by using different empowerment mechanisms.
PYALARA intends to voice young Palestinian’s concerns, focusing on their rights, by planning local awareness building media campaigns and instigating wider policy level change to ultimately improve Palestinian lives.
PYALARA intends to build the sustainability of the organization to ensure the smooth running and growth of PYALARA.
Program 1: Empowerment and capacity building Program
Goal of the Program:
To create and empower young Palestinian leaders, both males and females to lead the process of social, political and economic change within their communities and society at large
Description of the program:
Our work invests heavily in building life skills and participation of children and adults, both men and women, in the Palestinian communities. The goal of this investment is to create both structural and attitudinal/behavioral changes that will improve participation in each targeted area and can lead to sustainable social and structural change in communities. Providing young people with the skills and opportunities needed to intervene in decision-making and governance processes enables them to learn the skills and responsibilities of active citizenship which can be carried forward into adult life. This has long-term implications for their participation as engaged civil actors. Our work also invests heavily in the capacity of CBOs and other community based institutions (including local officials), decision makers, and the media to integrate participatory approaches into their work. We build the potential of these organizations and integrate child participation systems into their bylaws and methods of operations. In this way, we will help to build sustainable child participation and participatory development structures in the targeted communities.
Program 2: Civic participation and young Palestinian rights
Goal: This program has been designed to improve the cultural, socio-economic and political situation of young Palestinians. It intends to bridge the gap between duty-bearers and right-holders to modify and adopt the necessary regulations and policies in favor of young Palestinians rights.
Description of the program
During the past years PYALARA has created young leaders, enhanced the participation of Palestinian young people in decision-making processes and governance structures through training; staff and board members of community based organizations (CBOs), different community members and decision-makers on governance, human rights, child rights and participation, debating and argumentation, advocacy and campaigning…etc. also, holding decision-makers to account through initiating Public Debate Forums between the young people and decision-makers, and pioneering several Advocacy Campaigns seeking social and political changes.
As part of our youth engagement initiatives, we use peer-to-peer and public achievement and service methods to cultivate livelihood capabilities and assets among youth. We view public achievement as an educational method that brings together the threads of experiential learning and community service, both of which are essential components of youth development. Service learning meets educational objectives through real world experiences while tapping youth as resources to benefit themselves and their own communities. Integration of service-learning into our capacity building programs provides us with a means to address the issue raised repeatedly by Palestinian youth that schools are not engaging, while providing avenues through which youth can affect social, cultural and political change. Public achievement and peer-to-peer approaches also respond to the suggestions from youths that there should be more opportunities for community service. Acknowledging the importance of an integrated public achievement approach, we strive to establish working models that could become the foundation for a national initiative that engages youth in community development and enables them to effectively participate in nation building.
Our initiatives are consistent with former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s speech to the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth in Lisbon in 1998, in which he noted that “…no one is born a good citizen; no nation is born a democracy. Rather, both are processes that continue to evolve over a lifetime. Young people must be included from birth. A society that cuts itself off from its youth severs its lifeline; it is condemned to bleed to death.”
Third: Communication and Advocacy program
To contribute to enabling young Palestinians to promote change on local and national levels.
Description of the program
A significant amount of our work is media-focused because we view media as a means to empower youth and enable them change the social and political situation. Linking youth with the media and preparing them to use it to voice their issues and lobby for their rights is also a way for civic engagement and participation. It provides youth with a platform through which they can let their voices be heard and defend and realize their unalienable rights. Through various forms of media, PYALARA will engage youth and bring attention and recognition to their services and potential. Moreover, we will use the powerful and far-reaching media tools to enable youth to lobby and advocate for their rights.
PYALARA trains its direct beneficiaries on lobby and advocacy techniques to enable them to advocate for their issues and rights on local and national levels.