Palestinian girl, 16, becomes youngest minister in the world
Exactly the same day she turned 16 years old, a Palestinian girl called Bashaer Othman became the youngest minister in the world. On Thursday she directed the Local Administration Ministry in the West Bank, even if only for a day, when the minister responsible, Ehab Besaisso, visited her village.
Bashaer Othman took over the local administration during a day. Back in 2012, she was also mayor for two months. Exactly the same day she turned 16 years old, a Palestinian girl called Bashaer Othman became the youngest minister in the world. On Thursday she directed the Local Administration Ministry in the West Bank, even if only for a day, when the minister responsible, Ehab Besaisso, visited her village.
Bashaer had become news a year ago, when she became mayor of the town of Allar, of 9000 inhabitants, for two months. At the time, her photos using a hijab (Islamic headscarf that covers the hair but leaves the face open) showed her sitting at a large table while making phone calls around the world.
According to the girl, it was she herself who made the proposal to the Minister. "Mr. Besaisso was visiting my city and he knew I had been mayor. I suggested the idea and he thought stupendous (...). I said I was interested in that young people know that nothing is impossible," she told the Spanish newspaper ABC. She added that, in celebration of International Youth Day, this would be a good way of "putting young people in the political agenda of the Palestinian territories."
The young woman wanted to, even if for a day, make decisions for all Palestinians and the West Bank and give voice to young people. Therefore she set out to create a council for youth who have influence in policy making. She dreams that her proposal has weight in politicies for a better education. She points out, however, that this is her goal for today, not the future. "I do not know what I want to study," she said.
Another purpose of her short "mandate" was to send a letter to the UN requesting intervention in the case of the closure of a landfill in the town of Al Bira. According to accounts, the neighbors have no choice: they are obliged to burn the trash in front of their homes.
"The Israeli army closed the landfill and now people make bonfires of rubbish near where they live, with the consequent danger to health and the environment. It is intolerable and I would ask the UN to talk to Israel to reopen the landfill or find an alternative solution," said Bashaer.
During the days when she was mayor of Allar, attending a summer experiment aimed at empowering young people, Bashaer took care of all matters related to municipal policy from supervising employees to signing official documents, except financial ones. She worked under the supervision of the elected mayor, Sufian Shadid, who said he hoped that her role as an authority encouraged women to participate more actively in politics.
Translated by Lisa Karpova