International Women's Day 2019

International Women's Day 2019

March 11, 2019

Underrepresented in higher education and the labor market, Arab women in Israel are advancing in these areas that are essential to improving their socio-economic status and their fuller integration into Israeli society. These changes were reflected in a number of events marking International Women’s Day 2019.

The status of Arab women in Israel has become a priority for civil society organizations and government in recent years, with the understanding that this population presents an important challenge and harbors great potential to contribute to Israeli society and the economy. As of International Women’s Day 2019, Arab women in Israel are employed at an all-time high rate of 40 percent, but this still represents half the employment level of Jewish women. Approximately 60 percent of Arab students in higher education in Israel are women, but they are still severely under-represented in major areas of the Israeli economy such as high-tech (representing less than 1 percent of the tech workforce) and in local government office.

Alongside these economic advances, a variety of shared society efforts between Jewish and Arab women have grown around issues as diverse as peacebuilding, equal opportunity and fighting violence.

Israeli organizations and institutions that involve Arab women commemorated International Women’s Day with activities and programs dedicated to shared society efforts, women’s empowerment and employment, and women’s contribution to culture and discourse:

Women Wage Peace, a large-scale grassroots movement including Jews and Arabs spanning the political spectrum, held a march to Rabin Square, where they opened a “Mother’s Tent,” which will be open until the elections and will host an open discourse on topics concerning a political solution to the conflict and the inclusion of women in decision-making on security issues.

The Worker’s Advice Center (WAC-Maan), which defends and organizes Arabs and Jews on the periphery of Israel’s job market, held an event in Jaffa on the theme of renewable energy, hydroponics and sustainability, in keeping with its project to encourage Arab women's employment in these fields, among others, to promote independence and environmental awareness.

A-CAT Akko Center for Arts & Technology held an exhibition of women's paintings and a creative fair and a culinary exhibition: "Without Walls - Women Create in Acre." The event encourages women's empowerment and small business entrepreneurship.

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev held a conference on “Breaking the Glass Ceiling,” in which notable women researchers and alumni of the university shared their success stories and their personal inspiration. The evening was also the launch of a special booklet published for International Women’s Day that includes interviews with 10 notable university women alumni (Hebrew) including Dr. Sara Abu Kaf, the first clinical psychologist in Bedouin society and a senior researcher and lecturer in the Department of Conflict Management, and Dr. Rawia Aburabia, a civil rights activist and post-doctorate Fellow at the Faculty of Law and the Program for Gender Studies at Tel Aviv University.

The Israel Democracy Institute included Jamalat Abu Musa in a panel discussion marking International Women’s Day. Abu Musa is a graduate of AJEEC-NISPED’s Foundations for Women’s Success program, a year-long training to prepare Bedouin women to find employment or start their own business. Abu Musa now operates a successful home hospitality business, and spoke on the panel about her personal experience of advancement and empowerment.

Tsofen, a non-profit that develops the high-tech sector in Arab society as an economic lever and catalyst for shared society, held a gathering of Jewish and Arab women in technology in Haifa, in partnership with the municipality, Intel, Microsoft Israel, the Israel Electric Corporation, Poalim Hi-Tech and the HaifaUp entrepreneur network. 

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