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‘If you speak your mind, they judge’: exploring opportunities for and challenges to adolescent voice and agency in Gaza

Briefing/policy papers

Written by Nicola Jones

This briefing summarises findings from a Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence (GAGE) mixed methods research study to explore the patterning of adolescent voice and agency in the Gaza Strip. Drawing on the responses of approximately 240 adolescents and 70 service providers, it pays particular attention to how those patterns are shaped by gender relations and gender norms.  

Overall, our findings suggest that despite recent progress, adolescents in Gaza remain profoundly restricted by age hierarchies that reserve the right to speak and act for adults. Adolescent girls, who are also disadvantaged by the region’s strict gender norms, have particularly limited access to mobility, information and participation.

We found, for example, that while all adolescents were generally allowed to access school, mosques and empowerment programming run by non-governmental organisations, girls – but not boys – were largely prohibited from occupying other public spaces. Girls’ more limited mobility also impacted their access to information, with many relying on television and the internet (despite parents’ heavy policing). Spaces for adolescent decision-making were particularly bounded, with few young people – again, particularly girls – able to meaningfully participate at home, at school or in the community.

Bassam Abu Hamad, Ingrid Gercama and Nicola Jones