International Women’s Day: Weaving a common future

only between Arab and Jewish women, but also around the world. There is a terrible tragedy taking place in Syria. The country is being destroyed without pity, and the world...

Wafa Tiara, WAC-MAAN’s Project Coordinator for Women and Agriculture

only between Arab and Jewish women, but also around the world. There is a terrible tragedy taking place in Syria. The country is being destroyed without pity, and the world is indifferent. It’s as if rights and equality are for some people, but not for Syrians. The president of the world’s largest democracy has become a symbol of racism and hatred.” Tiara talked about the difficulty that Arab women have making a livelihood because of the lack of jobs and other obstacles, which leaves them far from the equality they dream of. She spoke of WAC-MAAN’s struggle to integrate women into the workplace in decent conditions. Tiara also spoke about a basketry course recently opened in Baqa al-Gharbiyyeh with Sindyanna’s assistance, and the establishment of a new cooperative of cleaning women. “The struggle of women for equality is far from complete, and we will continue it even more so today.”

Munsirat Martinez, director of the Lakiya Negev Weaving Visitors Center, spoke in English. She is of Spanish origin. “I came here to follow my heart and love, and I stayed because I loved the country and its people,” she said. “I was extremely affected by the grim situation among Bedouin women in the Negev. After I visited Lakiya and having conversations with women who wanted change, a program of empowerment relying on the sale of traditional handicrafts began to take shape in my mind. This enables them to make a living without leaving the village. The seed was sown for a Center of creative women. The idea has broadened to include plans to eradicate illiteracy among Bedouin women. Today the Center has become a magnet for visitors, who admire the weaving and embroidery. The women have overcome many obstacles.”

Rania Saleh the organizer of WAC-MAAN’s women’s project in East Jerusalem

The panel concluded with Rania Saleh from the Silwan neighborhood in East Jerusalem, where she organizes WAC-MAAN’s women’s project. Saleh spoke of the abject poverty among Palestinian women (only 11% of them are employed). She described the struggle for fair treatment by the Employment Bureau and the National Insurance Institute, on which Palestinian women depend for income support. Saleh has established a WhatsApp group of 100 women, who report to WAC-MAAN on their problems with the Employment Bureau. The group has managed to change the atmosphere there. It allows WAC-MAAN to address problems in real time when confronting the bureau. This has increased the women’s involvement and imbued them with self-confidence. WAC-MAAN instructs women in rights issues, labor laws, understanding pay slips, personal empowerment, and learning Hebrew. Finally, those who are sent to work receive the backup of a WAC-MAAN aide until successful absorption in the job. Saleh finished her remarks by saying: “On this day we tell women: We have a choice. We can educate a new generation to build their future, showing our children the power that is hidden in us, or we can raise a weak generation that is not equipped to face the challenges of the future.”

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About Michal Schwarz