Minister of Women Affairs facing hard questions from Ma’an journalists
Rabiha Ziab, Minister of Women’s Affairs, faces hard questions on Ma’an Network’s program “No Restraints”.
The program is funded by Foundation for the Future as part of a project titled “Empowering citizens, civil society and media to demand accountability and good governance in the occupied Palestinian territories”.
The one year project strengthens the media’s role as a tool to empower citizens and civil society to demand accountability and good governance from decision-makers. It addresses specific needs in the Palestinian context, including a dysfunctional, complex governance context, limited spaces for public debate, and a partisan, unchallenging media sphere.
Ministers from all the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) Ministries are invited to face journalist’s and citizen’s concerns regarding the work and policies of the respective ministry.
Experts from various civil society organizations support the journalists in their research in order to prepare for the TV panel with always one Government Minister present. Project Background: The project strengthens access to information; however its primary focus is on creating spaces for interaction between citizens and decision-makers, an area where Ma’an Network has strong potential to build on and surpass its current achievements.
With Palestinians becoming increasingly alienated from the authorities that impact upon their daily lives, the diminishing quality of their interactions will result in worse policy, weakened public trust and lack of responsibility on both sides.
With citizens having no clear prospect of effecting electoral change, there is a growing fear that this situation will lead to increasing public apathy, discontent and frustration, and a deterioration of transparency and accountability in Palestinian institutions.
As the rupture between West Bank and Gaza authorities becomes more entrenched by the day, the dysfunctional and uncertain governance context is difficult to navigate without a public sphere where policy can be presented, debated and challenged.
In this context, media can act as a safe forum for debate, and has a responsibility to empower citizens and address the lack of democratic responsiveness in governing institutions.
The project encourages this through building the capacity of Palestinian journalists to act as strong and independent interlocutors between citizens, including those most marginalized from power, and those in positions of power in the PNA.
It contains a specific focus on two elements of good governance and accountability, that of transparency and participatory policy-making, which underpin democratic government.
Through the workshops led by civil society experts, and one month of reporting dedicated to each topic, journalists will be strengthened in their understanding and appreciation of the impact of various PNA policy areas on the lives of citizens, and issues of transparency and inclusiveness related to the policy area.
Civil society is a reservoir of expertise, but the channels between media and those specialists requires reinforcing, as this project will do, in order to capitalize on this knowledge for wide public benefit. The televised interviews with relevant Government Ministers will further hone journalists’ skills to present information in a challenging way to those who have the authority to make real changes on the ground. They will also empower audiences by demonstrating accountability in action and providing a space where decision-makers really have to answer to the public.
This will contribute to strengthening demand for democratic development, and pressure for accountability and more and deeper consultation with society by those in power. Due to the attention given to the oPt by the wider Middle East, this has a potential for broader impact on regional democratization.
Detailed analysis of the ministerial penal on Ma’an News Agency: