The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee advances human rights through grassroots collaborations.
Partner Profile: Sharek Youth Forum
February 18, 2016
Based in Palestine’s West Bank, Sharek Youth Forum (Sharek for short) is an organization of committed and dynamic youth whose primary philosophy is anchored in the principle of involving youth as active participants within civil society. UUSC is working with Sharek to provide opportunities for women and youth to participate in the economy — either by enhancing their employability through integration into the labor market or through the establishment of new businesses.
Sharek, which derives its name from the Arabic word for “participation,” was founded in 1996 as an initiative of the U.N. Development Programme under its Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People. The success of the initiative led to its institutionalization as a private, nonpartisan nonprofit.
In its work, Sharek utilizes a human rights-based approach (HRBA) in all of its programmatic areas in order to ensure that young people have the opportunity to realize their full human rights. By using this approach, Sharek aims to foster long-term structural change, to empower women and youth to advocate for themselves and their rights, and to promote youth participation in all areas of Palestinian life. The organization provides vital space for youth to come together, develop their ideas, display their creativity, and implement community development projects. Sharek also builds partnerships among civil society organizations, the private sector, government, and international stakeholders in order to create opportunities for women and youth.
UUSC has provided a grant to Sharek that is designed to empower 100 young women to pursue employment in nontraditional sectors and industries through offering trainings on life skills, such as public speaking and self-advocacy), as well as technical skills (such as entrepreneurship, new media, and information technology). As part of the trainings, women will be given career counseling and provided with networking opportunities and internships. The project will also train employers to help challenge the barriers to women’s employment in Palestine.
Complementing the trainings, Sharek will launch a women-led advocacy campaign to change perceptions of and attitudes toward women in the workplace. The advocacy campaign will consist of three targeted campaigns designed to reach and influence the general population, employers, and women themselves. As a whole, the project aims to increase opportunities for women to work in male-dominated industries and reduce gender-based discrimination in the labor market.