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In beginning of March, we visited our partner organization Palestinian Centre for Peace and Democracy (PCPD) in Palestine running the project Femininfluencer which is funded by the Swedish Institute.  

Femininfluencer is a one-year project focusing on strengthening young women’s knowledge of resolution 1325 and demonstrating the importance of women’s participation in the political sphere. The primary target group is young female students with a strong interest in feminism and advocacy. They started the project by getting in-depth facts about the women, peace and security agenda, after which they interviewed local female role models such as prominent politicians and civil society leaders. This was an inspiration for the next step, to be trained in the use of social media and in doing external communication e.g. by participating in internal TV broadcasts. The young women have also produced their own YouTube videos with strong feminist messages about the importance of female participation. This has served the dual purpose of boosting their self-esteem and allowing the women to see themselves as participants and influencers in local politics. One woman has already stood in the local elections in her region and several of them mentioned that they could see themselves active in politics at all levels of society after participating in this project.  

The second important benefit is that all this contributes to the feminist debate. Especially since the participants screened the film clips for local women’s group across the West Bank. To serve as a foundation for discussion to continue spreading the message about women, peace and security and the importance of a feminist perspective in creating equal societies. We had the privilege of attending one of these workshops with a local women’s group. What struck me is the similarity between the concerns raised by the women in Palestine and what is raised in the feminist debate in Sweden. The details may differ, for example, the women in Palestine talked about the judgmental comments they received from riding a moped as it is seen as a male-coded activity. Moped riding might not be discussed in Sweden, but the idea that certain activities are male or female coded is universal. Which led the discussion into internalized misogyny, i.e. when women maintain the same limitations for their fellow sisters that society sets up. This is natural, as we are all products of the culture, we grow up in. We usually go with the flow and act according to the prevailing norm and try to get others to fall in line if they think and act differently.  

Personally, I find it inspiring to see young women, and young men for that matter, raising these issues to challenge and change structures and mindsets. It makes me feel more optimistic about the future and I hope that Operation 1325 will have the opportunity to connect young people from different countries to continue discussing and inspiring each other to slowly but surely build a more equal society. 

The participants also highlighted what an eye-opener it was for them to learn about different types of violence. That is, that violence is not only physical, but can also be psychological, sexual, material, economic, digital, etc. Suddenly they could see how they had been subjected to violence without even knowing it. This is an important knowledge for building their own agency and setting their own boundaries. The issue of different types of violence is of course always relevant in Palestine, if we broaden the view from the pure local to the structural and systematic violence, which does not necessarily have to be physical. Which we experienced firsthand due to the cancelation of some pre-planned visits to other cities in the West Bank, due to the risk of demonstrations that could lead to escalating violence because of some recent military attacks leading to Palestinian deaths. This also served as a reminder of the reality in which our partner organization operates. 

We have recently received confirmation regarding three-year funding from Forum Civ so that we can continue to support our partner organizations in their important work in Palestine. PCPD and the Palestinian Women Workers Society for Development (PWWSD) will empower even more women who are the future influencers in the region. The foundation for change is being laid here! You could also get involved.