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YOUTH LEADS: Youth Political and Civic Participation in Palestine

Young people exhibit a high degree of political disenchantment and apathy after many decades of political marginalization. Young people do not have many entry points for being heard, or for participating in the political process. This has, over the years, led to a gap of understanding between the Palestinian Authority and the nation’s youth. There are few services for engaging young people in political participation, policy processes, and governance activities, and recent crackdowns on freedom of expression – especially on social media – have come to further limit the voice of young people.   As a result, a 2015 PCBS study found that only 29% of Palestinian young people living in the West Bank express an interest in participating in a political event. The percentage in Gaza is significantly higher as it amounts to 57%.  Indeed, the lack of access to decision-making is reflected also in broader civic life, with less than 1% of youth working in any decision-making position. Furthermore, only 19% of youth stated that they are currently involved in volunteerism and community work. Many youths express that it does not feel worthwhile to even attempt engagement in the formal political sphere because their voices will not be heard. This is particularly true for young women, who suffer from multifaceted obstacles that prevent them from engaging in the political sphere, these obstacles include the patriarchal society and the stereotyped social norms that give females a certain role in the community which impedes progress in young female’s inclusion.


Empowered Youth for Stronger Civic & Political Agenda 
Palestine has a youthful population. Some 69% of the population is under the age of 30; 22% (1.14 million) of the population are youth between the ages of 18-29 (23% in the West Bank and 22% in the Gaza Strip). The youth population is set to double by 2050 – and to increase by one million people by 2030. The proposed project seeks to leverage the youth population in meaningful ways, for them and their society. To do so, it targets them as political and civic actors, capable of initiating and implementing meaningful change, articulating a vision for the future, and carrying the Palestinian vision in years to come. The intervention will bring together diverse actors such as community members, youth CBOs, NGOs, universities, municipalities, community and media leaders, and relevant national government institutions, in recognition that while youth should be at the center of the action, they are dependent on a supportive enabling environment, both in their immediate communities and at the highest policy level.

The project achieves this through:

  • Personal transformation of youth’s knowledge, skills and attitudes (Capacity Development); 
  • Collective transformation of the community’s understanding of the youth’s role and importance within the society through campaigning and intercultural initiatives highlighting youth’s leadership and sense of belonging (Contribution); and 
  • Structural transformation of institutions and policies pertaining to youth issues through policy and advocacy (Enabling Environment).
Overall project objective and outcomes: 
Youth in Palestine are active participants in, and contributors to society
Outcome I: Young People are better equipped and motivated to participate in the governance processes in Palestine 
Outcome II: Expand Palestinian youth’s meaningful community participation and representation in the society

UNFPA Theory of Change for Youth

If Palestinian young women and young men from diverse backgrounds are equipped with the skills and motivation to participate in civic and political life, and if platforms for such engagement are provided through adequate policies, investments, and organizational opportunities, then the youth will increasingly participate – through their voices and through actions – to a peaceful, inclusive, and socially cohesive society on a path to sustainable development. Hence, UNFPA and its national and international partners will unite their expertise and outreach to youth groups and individuals and adapt regional and worldwide best practices to empower a holistic, systemic, and sustainable change.
For more information, please contact: 
Sima Almai, UNFPA Youth Programme Officer,
Salem Nassr, Youth Leads Project Manager,
Mohammed Nasr, UNFPA Programme and Communications Officer,