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United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
13 April 2005
Children Municipality Councils Elections Held in Khan Younis: 13,000 Cast Ballots
GAZA, April 13, 2005 – More than 13,000 children cast ballots today in elections for Children Municipality Councils (CMC) in Khan Younis. The voting took place in 14 schools and 2 community centers.
Today’s elections were supported by UNICEF and the Municipality of Khan Younis, and in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MoEHE) and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
A team of election observers – which consisted of municipal staff and UNICEF staff members – were present at several vote counting centers throughout the morning. Thirty-five CMC candidates will be elected by the end of the day, and in turn they will elect a chairperson and committee members.
Ehab Shawa, the chairperson of the Gaza City CMC, helped oversee the vote counting process, as well as Khan Younis Mayor Dr. Usama al-Farra.
Shawa told journalists he was pleased that two students from each school were chosen to assist teachers with ballot counting. “From the beginning students were given even a bigger role in this election,” he said.
The CMCs function as parallel municipal councils and are involved in decisions impacting upon children. They plan activities and implement small-scale projects in such areas as sports, culture, the environment, education and road safety.
The launch of a CMC in Khan Younis will bring the total of CMCs in West Bank and Gaza Strip to eight. In the Gaza Strip alone, there are now three CMCs – including the newly-formed one in Khan Younis.
CMCs work with mayors and adult municipal councils, influencing decisions so that they are in best interests of kids. They also contribute positively to community development via small scale projects.
The impact of CMCs on kids is tremendous, endowing them with skills such as negotiating and planning and encouraging them how to advocate issues with their peers. The election process itself is an exercise in participation.
CMCs help to promote children’s right of free expression, and their right to influence any decision related to children. This is in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) – stating that all children-related actions should be in the best interests of the child.
The project is funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).