August this month 250 youth across Hebron shared a moment of solidarity as they celebrated International Youth Day through a packed sports day organised by ActionAid and local partners. This day was part of an international campaign led by Activista, ActionAid's global youth network which involves 50 ActionAid partners and thousands of volunteers in more than 25 countries.
As part of its broader campaigning work Activista developed an important theme for 2016 which includes the "leading role of young people in ensuring poverty eradication and achieving sustainable development through sustainable production and consumption."
The players were drawn from a number of youth groups across Hebron and made up a total of 16 teams. The aim of the day was:
- to mobilise youth and amplify their voices at the national and international level
- to create youth opportunities, bring communities together and raise awareness about the issue of unemployment and the right of everyone to have a job
One of the most enjoyed activities of the day was the football tournament. Football is hugely popular in Palestine and many of the young people openly declared their love by wearing Real Madrid football strips.
Seizing on this love of football, ActionAid took the opportunity to bring young people suffering from high levels of unemployment together and to offer them an outlet through the “beautiful game”. “We all love football here" said Zidan Taha, a volunteer and participant on the day. "This is a really great activity for International Youth Day.”
ActionAid works in partnership with the Hebron Governorate and a number youth groups throughout Hebron city and the surrounding communities. Youth groups have been established to harness the energy and passion of young people to help them achieve greater empowerment for themselves, and to create connections and synergies.
Sharek Youth Centre is one such partner group and plays an important role in reaching out to some of the most excluded young people who struggle to find jobs and become active members in Hebron old city. The Centre provides a range of services and classes for the youth of the city as well as facilitating campaigning work, particularly around child labour, internships and youth entrepreneurship.
Youth groups like Sharek are becoming an increasingly effective way to mobilise Palestinian youth. As ActionAid Palestine's local partner they tackle big issues such as youth unemployment and particularly address young graduates still struggling to find work. “I think [every group] has the same goal, a job for each graduate” said Taha, “youth groups create an opportunity for young people to have a political role in Hebron.”
Sharek Youth Center took home the trophy at the end of the football tournament, but everyone involved enjoyed the buzz and the family friendly atmosphere of the day. In a tough environment caused by the occupation and high levels of social and economic exclusion many agreed it was an important event that fostered collaboration among excluded youth and offered a glimmer of hope for those struggling with daily hardship.
ActionAid aims to enable the greater capacity of youth to understand their rights, articulate their agenda and demand public services and representation which are accountable to communities. Our work helps to mobilise and empower marginalised youth and has proved successful in increasing youth participation and increasing communities' awareness of their rights.
This blog post was written by Noah Taylor, ActionAid volunteer.