At a glance: State of Palestine

Children’s Municipality Council helps improve children’s lives in the Occupied Palestinian Territory

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© UNICEF OPT/2005
Members of Gaza City’s Children’s Municipality Council.

By Michael Bociurkiw

GAZA CITY, 23 August 2005 - While Israel evacuates settlers in the Gaza Strip, many Palestinian teenagers are learning to become the next generation of leaders in Gaza City.

This spring more than 18,000 children cast their votes in an election to form Gaza City’s Children’s Municipality Council – or CMC – one of several located across the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). As a result, 40 adolescents were elected as members of the CMC – which shadows city council and is aimed at getting more young people involved in decision making.

Becoming a full-fledged CMC member is not an easy process. After winning the election, members still need to go through hours of rigorous training on topics concerning children, as well as project planning and programme implementation.

Bringing positive change to children’s lives

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF OPT/2005
More than 18,000 children cast their votes in an election to form Gaza City’s Children’s Municipality Council earlier this year.

Members of CMCs meet regularly with municipal leaders. They also organize awareness campaigns to promote children’s rights, and create community projects to improve children’s lives. Whether it’s an issue of trash collection, re-designing city streets and parks, or bringing more sports activities for youth – proposals made by the CMC are taken to the Gaza City council and the Mayor for potential implementation.

With nearly 50 per cent of population in the OPT under eighteen, the need to provide facilities and services for young people has become increasingly apparent. The CMC provides a perfect platform to formalize children’s participation in issues concerning them. It also helps to bring a sense of empowerment and normalcy back into children’s lives, as curfews, school closures and military incursions have become a fact of life for many Palestinians.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF OPT/2005
A CMC member details a plan on how UNICEF can improve sports activities for youth.

UNICEF’s support for CMC

Working with the Canadian International Development Agency, UNICEF has provided technical and financial support to CMCs (an average cost to set up one CMC is about $16,000). Staff at UNICEF monitor a CMC’s activities regularly, and earlier this year, three CMC members traveled to Dubai at UNICEF’s expense to participate in the regional Urban Child and Youth Conference.

As of this August UNICEF has helped set up eight CMCs across the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, providing more than 300 adolescents with the opportunity to participate in the building of their new state.


 

 

Video

23 August 2005:
UNICEF Correspondent John Mimms reports on Gaza City’s Children’s Municipality Council.

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