Yes She Can!

May 29, 2012 / Civitas International Programs, Volume 4, Issue 1
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The Deir Ammar Primary School for Girls in the West Bank’s Deir Ammar refugee camp hosted a public meeting on May 5, 2012, to support ninth-grade students in their effort to establish an athletic club for girls in the camp.

The student initiative is the first Yes She Can Project in the West Bank. The project seeks to empower female students to address their needs through civic participation.
The West Bank’s Teacher Creativity Center implements the Yes She Can Project at Deir Ammar School in partnership with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). The project makes use of the Project Citizen curricular methodology, developed by the Center for Civic Education and adapted by the Teacher Creativity Center through the Civitas International Programs.

Over the past year, the Teacher Creativity Center, in cooperation with the UNRWA, worked with forty-eight ninth-grade students in the school to develop their advocacy and lobbying skills and strengthen their leadership and civic participation skills.

Using Project Citizen, the students identified and prioritized their needs and developed an action plan to address these priorities.

The girls determined that the most pressing need was for alternatives for girls to spend time after school to develop themselves and participate in civic life. There were such opportunities for boys in their community, but not for girls.

To remedy this problem, the students developed a proposal to establish an athletic cultural club exclusively for girls.

The students hope that the club will be more than merely a gym. They aspire for the club to become a rendezvous for girls and women that will allow them to increase their awareness and knowledge.

They hope that the club will serve all women in the camp through its activities. It will focus on such goals as eradicating women’s illiteracy, enhancing children’s literature, enhancing drama, and giving girls more opportunities to develop their personalities. The club is ultimately envisioned as a place where girls will spend their time and participate in building their future and the future of their community.

During the course of the Yes She Can Project, the girls sought approval to establish the athletic cultural club on an empty piece of land in the camp. They also hoped to acquire the necessary funding to build and prepare this club. The girls carried out an action plan to seek support from the school administration, staff, parents, public figures, the national committee, and the feminist center in the camp.

In addition, the girls reached out to potential supporters outside the borders of the camp by addressing the governorate, the head of the municipality, the prime minister, the media, and civil society.

As one step in this process, the girls organized the May 5 meeting at their school in order to mobilize support for their demands and pressure officials to approve the land use.

The event was attended by Minister of Social Affairs Majida Masri, Minister of Women’s Affairs Rabiha Diab, UNRWA Deputy Director of Operations David Hutton, General Director of the Teacher Creativity Center Refaat Sabbah, UNRWA Director of Jerusalem and Jericho Yousef Houshieh, UNRWA Director of the Education Programs Muhannad Baydas, and Jamal Sharakeh, Head of the Popular Committee in Deir Ammar Village.

The two-hour meeting provided a forum for dialogue and discussion between the attendees and community members from the camp. The community and parents of the students expressed substantial support for establishing the club, emphasizing their willingness to provide monetary and psychological support for the girls.

Muhannad Baydas, UNRWA Director of Education Programs, indicated UNRWA’s approval of the proposal to provide land for the project, emphasizing the need to guarantee proper investment and utilization of the site for the greater good of the camp. Government officials said that some funding may be available to support this effort, and the students followed up with letters to ministry offices.

At the conclusion of the event, the school principal, Hana Jabber, emphasized the importance of supporting the students to ensure the establishment of the club in order to empower girls to raise their voices and fulfill their aspirations.

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