Ramallah – May 2018 - For two consecutive days starting on Monday, May 7, 2018, Juzoor for Health and Social Development and the United Nations Population Fund held a National Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health in Schools, with the theme “Youth at Crossroads,” which carried the slogan, “one million youth in Palestine need to pass the adolescence stage safely.” The conference took place in Elite Hall in Ramallah and was attended by high-level representatives, government and international sectors, and the United Nations Population Fund. In partnership with Save the Children International and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the conference was sponsored by the Minister of Education and Higher Education (MoEHE), Dr. Sabri Saidam, the Consulate General of Italy in Jerusalem, the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, and the Arab Coalition for Adolescent Health.
It is worth noting that the idea of the conference stems from the strong commitment and leading role of the Palestinian MoEHE on Reproductive and Sexual Health on all levels. The ministry believes in the importance of reproductive and sexual health programs that influence and shape the personality of students - which will help them discover themselves by formulating their orientations and beliefs. In addition, this approach will help protect adolescents from the mounting economic and social dangers, especially those caused by the Israeli occupation which continues to hamper human development and stability in Palestine. This conference is a culmination of several programs implemented throughout many years by Palestinian and international civil society organizations, which aim to protect adolescents’ health and empower their roles in the society.
During these two days, the conference highlighted the importance of integrating reproductive and sexual health programs for adolescents in Palestinian schools. It also emphasized on the importance of continuing the dialogue between leaders in the education and health sectors and other sectors, in order to implement comprehensive programs that would allow education systems to include curricular and non- curricular activities, which aim to introduce reproductive and sexual health for adolescents. The conference also provided opportunities for the participants to learn about successful local and international models, initiatives and lessons learned that can be institutionalized. Also, it encouraged using social media tools to share informational messages to provide a dynamic and interactive space to raise awareness on reproductive health among school-going adolescents. Such suggestions were proposed to be implemented in cooperation between national partners, under the supervision of the Ministry of Education. During the opening session of the conference, Dr. Umaiyeh Khammash,, member of the Arab Coalition for Adolescent Health, and Advisor at the Juzoor, welcomed the attendees and presented the goals of the conference. Moreover, Dr. Salwa Al-Najab, Director of Juzoor , welcomed and thanked the participants, supporters, and speakers at the conference. Dr. Salwa described the importance of addressing the issue of reproductive and sexual health associated with adolescents and how the presence and partnerships of high-level individuals on a national and international level is essential in order to achieve the goals of the conference. In a recorded film from Saudia Arabia, the President of the Arab Coalition for Adolescent Health, Dr. Fadia Al- Buhairan, expressed her happiness in conducting this conference in the State of Palestine and on her keen interest to support Palestinian efforts in this crucial matter. Her speech was followed by Mr. Scott Anderson, Director of UNRWA Operations, where he focused on the dangers and challenges that children and adolescents face in refugee camps. He also emphasized UNRWA’s efforts to build a protection framework derived from family protection programs in Palestinian refugee camps. He also noted the importance of the continuous cooperation and partnership with Juzoor in implementing programs on reproductive and sexual health and rights of adolescents as it is a successful model that the rest would do well to follow. In a statement by Mr. Anders Thomsen, UNFPA Representative in the Palestinian Territories, he highlighted the importance of investing in young people and focusing on their reproductive and sexual health in order to protect them from the risks that may result from lack of knowledge and information and how this will eventually contribute to achieving sustainable development goals. In addition, Ms Christina Natoli, Director of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, stressed the Importance of the concept for the development of the Palestinian country. And in his speech, the Consul General of Italy, Mr. Fabio Sokolowicz, emphasized his great pride in supporting this important national effort, which is consistent with the objectives of the consulate.
This conference has highlighted adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights in Palestinian schools. Providing the knowledge, and positive skills to empower their self-initiation, perseverance and leadership. These skills will assist to address risky behaviors in spite of deepened rapid social transitions that threaten the Palestinian society under the influence of the Israeli occupation ramifications socially and politically. Nonetheless; globalization, developments in technology, capital growth, economic openness, communication revolution, power of the media, new lifestyle habits, the engagement of various social values, and appearance of new social attitudes and practices.
Juzoor has initiated the process with conducting several meetings with the Ministry of Education and higher education as HE dr. Sabri has supported this initiation. The ministry believes in the importance of reproductive and sexual health programs that influence and shape the personality of students - formulating their orientations and beliefs. HE Dr. Sabri Saidam believed in the initiation of such a conference to begin the journey of integrating SRH in the school curricula. In addition, this approach will help protect adolescents from the mounting economic and social dangers, especially those caused by the Israeli occupation which continues to hamper human development and stability in Palestine. The conference presented a culmination of several programs implemented throughout many years by Palestinian and international civil society organizations, which aim to protect adolescents’ health and empower their roles in the society.
The conference strived to introduce participants to the national, regional and international models and the creative innovative ideas to extract the lessons learned, to be generalized and institutionalized. To research social media to provide relevant information by creating dynamic interactions to empower sexual and reproductive health for adolescents in schools and strengthen partnerships between national partners under the leadership of the Ministry of Education
- To highlight adolescent health in Palestinian schools to enhance their sexual and reproductive health. Providing the knowledge, and positive skills that empowers self-initiation, perseverance and leadership to address risky behaviors.
- To support continuous multi-sectoral collaboration between leaders of both the educational and health sectors to compose and execute a holistic program to empower the education system configured through curricula and extra curricula activities related to adolescent sexual reproductive health
- To define successful national and international models, creative ideas, and extract lessons learned to be generalized and institutionalized.
- To explore the usage of social media as a dynamic mean to providing information and enhancing adolescent sexual and reproductive health in schools.
- To Strengthen cooperation between national partners under the lead of the Ministry of Education and Higher Education.
- To define a set of recommendations for future policy development with a defined follow up committee.
Approximately 350 participants attended the first day of the conference and approximately 250 attended the second day. The participants were composed of representatives from various local, international organizations, UN agencies and various departments of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education and Higher Education. It is of vital of importance to point out that about half the participants that attended the conference were youth- under the age 29- which provided routes of participation from all age groups.
Pictures from day 1
Pictures from day2
Videos from the conference