Using social media to advocate rights of persons with disabilities
Despite the fact that people in Gaza suffer from a very bad political, social and economic situation, persons with disabilities are working hard to advocate for their rights. In 2013 they started using social media as a tool for advocacy. Diakonia and The Norwegian Association of Disabled (NAD) as well as local organizations are supporting the work.
Uses social media in different ways
Abeer Alhrkla is 21 years old and suffers from motor impairment. She is studying multimedia and attended several courses on advocacy which were carried out by the National Society for Rehabilitation.
Post these courses, Abeer created a Facebook page and named it "Lobbying and advocacy committee" which is part of the program "Youth are leading the change". The goal with the page is to exert pressure on decision makers in order to apply the Disability Law.
Additionally, Abeer is currently working on the preparation of a page to the news groups of Google services in an aim to highlight the issues and the situation of the disabled as well as the activities performed by them.
Started using media as a tool in 2013
The National Society for Rehabilitation (NSR) is known for its work with the disabled. 23 years ago, the society started its advocacy project which is functioning till today with the financial and the technical support of both Diakonia and Norwegian Association of Disabled (NAD).
The year 2013 distinguished itself through the efforts exerted by persons with disabilities to use media as a tool to advocate for their rights. The efforts have not only been used within the organization, it has also helped people active in the Society to make a living:
Hazem al-Ashi; 24 years old who is partially paralyzed nowadays owns an internet coffee shop named “Al-Amal” which means Hope. In addition to that, Hazem created a Facebook page which advocates for the rights of persons with disabilities.
Spreads news about initiatives and activities of disabled
Ahmed Hassouna; 24 years old, holds a diploma in Rehabilitation for the disabled, is visually impaired and started working in the area of advocacy three years ago. Through the National Society for Rehabilitation, Ahmad received courses in life skills, and is now an activist in the field of lobbying and advocacy through media and the media community.
Besides Abeer, Ahmad created a page within the "Lobbying and advocacy Committee," in which he covers all the news about the disability sector and the activities of the disabled.
Although Ahmad and Abeer differ in the type of disability, both of them use the social media to advocate for their rights and to reach their goals. Both found their way and personal identity through employing media aiming to support and advocate their issues and rights.
Women and girls speak out
The Palestinian Youth Empowerment Center (YEC) leads children and young people and adopts initiatives towards their social, economic, and cultural development.
Additionally,the center highlights the importance of approaching the community to be informed about the issues of justice for persons with disabilities. The project "Women and girls speak out" adopts its vision from the rights of persons with disabilities in employment, education, marriage, and participation in social life.
Maysa Sharif; 23 years old, holds a bachelor degree in social work, suffers from visual impairment. Maysa joined the programs of YEC as well as being a loyal member in the project titled “Women are leading the change". Also, she volunteered with the psychological support team in an aim to highlight different social issues.
Post the first course in the field of lobbying and advocacy; Maysa created a Facebook page and named it "Youth are leading the change" to advocate the issues of the disabled. With no time, the number of activists /followers reached 140 activists.
Despite the obstacles that Maysa is facing, she is insisting and assuring that disabled individuals are capable. “With hope and patience nothing is impossible” Maysa says.
Website used for an advocacy campaign
Deir al-Balah Rehabilitation Society seeks to enable persons with disabilities within their communities through offering both rehabilitation and development services. Moreover, It is known for being the voice to challenge disability; the first voice for people with disabilities within the Arab countries.
During 2013, Deir Al-Balah Rehabilitation Society succeeded in launching its website which aims at advocating persons with disabilities. Through this website, DBRS started an advocacy campaign; it employed different media terms and used different tools to exert an impact on the public opinion from a scientific base that says: “Imposing pressure on media will one day lead decision makers to be influenced and start supporting the cases of the disabled and work towards implementing their rights”.
Advocacy programs are considered an opportunity to influence the public and decision makers to look around and think a little bit about the obstacles that might be removed to enhance the lives of persons with disabilities so they achieve the best today and in the future.