"A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform."
In a patriarchal society, Palestinian women are often restricted from demonstrating individualism and meaningful participation in society. Here at Tomorrow's Youth Organization, women's empowerment is not only encouraged, but we consider women as crucial targets "because of their central role in the family and potential leadership role of community change." Therefore, The Women's Group (TWG) "was developed to expand on our support efforts for mothers; to offer them seminars on health, mental health, parenting & children's needs, education & literacy, and women's empowerment." For the past two weeks in TWG, our seminars and discussions have focused on all the different subthemes of communication including, respect, communication among children and adolescents, individuals with special needs or disabilities, and communication in marriage. The issue of communication, or lack thereof, is a common issue facing our target women and is a topic they always want more information on. Often, the women are upset by the relationships they have with their children, husbands and family members - which stems from lack of communication. At TYO, women are not only encouraged to speak up, but to listen, and pay attention to nonverbal communication cues to better grasp communication techniques. Right to Play lead discussions and activities regarding different communication techniques to implement with children, adolescents, and family members. One activity, specifically, demonstrated how lack of listening promotes frustration and detached relationships.
It was interesting to hear the different techniques the women named, regarding communication with children and adolescents. About 50% of the group was able to come up with techniques they use with their children and how they are effective. The majority of class stated that the most important aspect of communication with children, adolescent, family members, and people in general is trust.
According to Nan s. Russell from Psychology Today, "there is a power behind authentic communication. It builds trust. And trust is power. Power to engage; to bring out the energy, talents, and gifts of individuals, to build teams, and to achieve amazing results." Although Russell speaks from a business standpoint, I believe this applies to personal relationships as well.
The Women's Group at TYO often incorporates 'problem solving therapy' (PST) in their programs. Seminars and discussions in The Women's Group aid in familiarizing and educating these women with all seven steps of PST to master problem-solving techniques. From the trust-building technique the women discussed above, one can see that with TYO's help, the women in The Women's Group are on the path to mastering these techniques and creating healthier, happier relationships.
Reema is a Zahi Khouri Fellow at TYO in Nablus.