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Community Empowerment
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Written by PARD   
Category: Community Empowerment
Published Date
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Objectives of strategy two:


  • Promote community development by providing motivation, education and proper cognitive, democratic and social skills
  • Increase Palestinian communities’ capacities and resources to bring people together around common goals and interests
  • Increase participation of the Palestinian communities in decision-making and problem-solving processes
  • Enhance exchange and partnership with local, regional and international communities and groups
  • Build up social capital



Competitive Advantages of the Strategy:


  • People centered, from the people to the people
  • Rights based and action oriented
  • Increases focus on cooperation and networking with local and international organizations
  • Promotes social justice, participation and ownership
  • Promotes peer education and community involvement
  • Empowers marginalized groups to take positive control of their own lives



Components of Strategy two:   


To implement the second strategy, PARD will adopt the following interventions and activities:


Program 1: Empowerment

  1. Community
  2. Women
  3. Youth


Program 2: Volunteers

  1. i.Volunteer Recruitment & Action



Rationale of Strategy Two:


Community empowerment is a multi-level construct that involves practical approaches, social action processes, and individual and collective efforts and outcomes. In a broader sense, empowerment refers to individuals, families, organizations, and communities gaining control within the social, economic, and political contexts of their lives, in order to improve equity and their quality of life.


For PARD, community empowerment is mainly about providing the necessary tools, skills and opportunities to the Palestinian community and especially the women & youth so as to enable them to work together and ensure a better life. The process that PARD plans to implement involves empowering the Palestinian people to become active in making positive decisions that influence their communities and their lives. This means that the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon would need to learn how to take responsibility of their own lives and find solutions to their own problems instead of waiting for others to come up with ready-to-fit solutions.


Moreover, because the local Lebanese government provides little or no services at all to the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, and because the UNRWA’s budget is limited to specific programs and interventions, the Palestinian communities have another crucial reason to be focused on working together in finding solutions aimed at improving the Palestinian community and the lives of its members.


Nevertheless, real community empowerment is the result of focused efforts from the different participating stakeholders who are willing to apply values into their work and thus prevent exploitation or misuse of the empowerment process. PARD believes that the process should reflect equality at all times and consequently exclude any form of discrimination within the community. PARD also believes that empowerment needs to be initiated by a learning process that enhances the skills and knowledge of the targeted community before creating opportunities and facilitating a democratic involvement in the issues relevant to the people’s lives and future. Cooperation is another fundamental component to empowerment where action is identified and implemented together with stakeholders who have common interests and concerns. In addition, social justice should be an integral part of the community empowerment because it enables people to claim their rights, participate in key processes and have greater control over the decisions that can positively or negatively influence their lives.


The construct of empowerment also assumes that a society consists of separate groups that possess different levels of power and control over resources, and that social problems stem not from individual deficits, but rather from the failure of the society to meet the needs of all its members. As such, PARD plans to target the Palestinian community in general with empowerment programs but also wishes to focus on some particular marginalized groups such as the youth, women, and children.


Youths from marginalized and disenfranchised communities can and should be empowered to advocate for social justice through civic engagement and sociopolitical action. As such, PARD realizes that investing in the Palestinian youth empowerment is an integral part of any development and social change plan the organization wishes to adopt. Without the understanding, involvement and ‘positive’ knowledge of the youth to their context, the aspirations and heritage of the Palestinian community can be lost. Therefore the youth should be well educated and supported to participate and make significant differences. The youth should also be provided with tools and skills that would allow them to understand that the choices they take can impact their lives and the lives of others as well. Thus their constructive, responsible and informed participation could lead into a positive chain or reaction and results within their communities.


Another group, PARD plans to target, is the Palestinian women who need to be empowered so as to remove all discriminatory practices, traditions and policies that impede their access to resources and their ability to identify and implement actions that would lead to gender equity in their own context. PARD also plans to mobilize the Palestinian women and link them to larger women's movements that can unite their struggle and experience into a more unified action. A third level of PARD’s interventions will be achieved once the Palestinian women have gained the ability to take action and they have brought forward gender equality in processes that involve making decisions that affect their lives and resources. Women empowerment and promoting gender equality is also the main directive of the third Millennium Development Goal.


Another relevant group is the volunteers (many of whom are young people) who can actually play active roles as social change agents within the Palestinian community. Volunteers form an integral community reservoir that PARD plans to target. The focus will be on the several people who share PARD’s values and are willing to invest their time and energy to become volunteers and serve the community they belong to. Volunteers, however, need to be continuously motivated and developed and their sense of passion for their work and values maintained.


Two major world conferences in the 1990s--the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo in 1994 and the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995--revolutionized the international standards for the rights and health of the world's women.

The ICPD put family planning, reproductive and sexual health care and women's empowerment squarely in the context of development, and underlined their critical importance to any social and economic progress. The Beijing conference went further, forging international commitments to promoting equality, development and peace for and with all the women of the world.

Both international agreements stressed that equality between women and men is a human rights concern, and that empowering women ensures the development of a sustainable and equitable society--no society can reach this goal without taking both women's productive and reproductive roles into account. Both aimed to ensure that policies and programmes at all levels incorporate a gender perspective and address women's lives and their needs.

The Beijing Platform for Action and the ICPD Programme of Action incorporate new and related objectives, drawn from practical experience, for addressing women's needs and rights in a holistic and integrated way.


These include:


  • Securing women's human rights;
  • Ensuring male involvement and responsibility in reproductive health;
  • Providing quality services;
  • Taking a life-cycle approach to women’s health;
  • Attending to adolescent sexual and reproductive health needs;
  • Preventing and treating HIV/AIDS;
  • Eliminating all forms of violence against women, including damaging cultural practices such as female genital mutilation.



Both documents also emphasized the rights of women migrants and refugees.


Women's human rights were a key issue at the 1999 United Nations General Assembly special session reviewing implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action (New York, 30 June-2 July). The "ICPD + 5" review showed that while significant gains have been made, women's reproductive rights and sexual health are still under threat in many ways. A similar review of progress since the Beijing conference is under way in 2000.

The Beijing Platform identified "12 critical areas" of action needed to empower women and ensure their human rights: women and poverty; education and training of women; women and health; violence against women; women and armed conflict; women and the economy; women in power and decision-making; institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women; human rights of women; women and the media; women and the environment; and the girl-child.

These areas are often interrelated, but spelling them out keeps each in the forefront of policy and programme considerations. We should support programmes and projects that cut across all areas, emphasizing the links between gender, population and development. Recognizing that poverty and economic crises have put a particularly heavy burden on women and girls, it is necessary to combine reproductive and sexual health services and information with micro-financing activities for women in many countries.




All human rights--civil, cultural, economic, political and social, including the right to development--are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated . . . the human rights of women and the girl-child are an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights. The full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by women and girls is a priority for governments and the United Nations and is essential for the advancement of women.


--The Beijing Platform for Action, paragraph 213




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