On 29 January, the UNRWA communications with communities team, part of the Gaza Field Communications Office, has launched its first comic drawing workshop in cooperation with a community-based organization in Gaza city. Approximately, 25 young women from all areas of Gaza are participating in the training which will last for one month and focus on topics such as early marriage and gender-based violence.
28-year-old Mokaram Al-Hegi, a participant of the comic drawing training, said: ”I got married when I was 18 years old; my husband didn’t allow me to complete my studies, and when I got divorced my family prevented me as well. Then I heard about this training from a friend, and I told myself this is a great opportunity to learn something new.”
Comic drawing is a form of story-telling, through which UNRWA attempts to empower and provide participants (directly affected or others) with a platform and a voice to advocate for change and support inside their community and beyond. After the completion of the training at the end of this month, UNRWA will publish the girls’ comics on social media to make them available to the local and global public.
“I used one of the drawings I did in this workshop to advocate for my right to education with my family. I drew a comic that explains to them the importance of education in girls’ lives, and that it’s a human right. When my father saw my skills in drawing he finally agreed that I can go back to university and study art,” Mokaram added.
The comic drawing workshop is taught by the female Gaza artist Majdal Nateel. At the end of February, each participant will have completed 14 training sessions focusing on basic drawing skills – such as how to express different emotions – and on how to write a script and tell a story by using only few words. With the drawings, the participants address various issues relevant to their daily lives as girls and women in Gaza, such as the right to education, political participation, early marriage and the roles women play and can play in the community.
“I find comic drawing an easy way to express myself. In few words and with a simple drawing I manage to explain a big idea. Seriously, I feel this training is changing my life,” Mokaram said emotionally.
Communications with Communities (CwC) is a two-way dialogue between communities and humanitarian organizations. It should enable the communities to meet their different needs, address their vulnerabilities and build on their pre-existing capacities. With the comic drawing workshop, the UNRWA communications office combined CwC with Communications for Development (C4D). C4D is a social process based on dialogue using a broad range of tools and methods. Through C4D, the UNRWA communications office seeks to empower individual Palestine refugees and their communities, enhance their voices through dialogue, consultation and participation, and help individuals and communities make important decisions to improve and save lives, and increase civic engagement for long lasting change.