Report – Condemned to Unemployment: East Jerusalem Women Struggle for Integration into the Labor Market

withering away at a steady rate. Most of EJ has been cut off from the economy of the West Bank by the erection of the Separation Barrier, and so its economic role has been replaced by the Palestinian city of Ramallah. Thus, EJ has become just another neglected peripheral area within the Israeli economy. Traditionally, family businesses provided jobs for women. With the collapse of these businesses, many women have found themselves outside the labor market. Additionally, many of them state that they would prefer not to work in the family business, because pay and conditions tend to fall short of the legal minimum: In family businesses they often lack social welfare rights, maternity payments, termination pay, payment for on-the-job accidents and even registry with the authorities. When the family business is terminated, they have no unemployment benefits. The more aware women become of their rights, the more they want to work in jobs that meet those rights.

Rania Julani, a WAC member of 35, mother of three, married at 20; in accordance with the mores of Arab society, she stopped working at marriage. Then she suffered violence at the hands of her husband, but she was afraid to get divorced and be left with no source of income. Ever since joining WAC she has been going through a process of empowerment: WAC helped her get her income support benefit from the government, and she found the courage to divorce. Previously Julani had gained the Palestinian high school certificate and qualified as a kindergarten teacher. During the divorce, she qualified as an accountant, with the help of the Rian Center and the Employment Bureau. Despite her wish to work in one of these two fields, the only work to which she was directed by the Employment Bureau was as a cleaner. The position is part-time, so she still needs income support from the National Insurance Institute.

Another example is provided by Raida Salhut, a WAC member aged 39, divorced with a son of 16, who lives in the EJ suburb of Jabel Mukaber. In 2006 she had an accident while working as a mushroom picker at “Ayalon Emek Hapitriot.” Shortly after this, the company went bankrupt and all the workers were dismissed. Between 2008 and 2010, Salhut worked at a clothing warehouse, to which she had been referred by the employment program “Orot Leta’asuka” (one of the versions of the Wisconsin Program for the privatization of Employment Bureaus). She was fired when she complained about working conditions. Since then she has had difficulty in re-entering the labor market. In 2013, she was sent by the Employment Bureau (henceforth EB), along with a large group of women, to a two-year training for kindergarten teachers. The course, held at Anwar Al Kuds College, included practical work and studies for five days per week. At the end of it, Salhut passed a national exam with a grade of 85. She dreamed of opening a kindergarten or working in one, but when she returned to the EB, she was told, to her astonishment, that they had no work at all in kindergartens or child care. The efforts she also made on her own also came to nothing. Meanwhile, the medical condition from her previous accident worsened. Today she is afraid that she would not be able to cope with the demands of kindergarten work even if she found one.

As will be detailed below (Section 7 – Abusive Employment), the jobs that are available to EJ women, mostly in cleaning and caretaking, are part-time—mere fractions of jobs.

3)        Absence of Educational Frameworks, especially for Infants

In the academic year 2015-16 the number of children aged 0–3 in EJ stood at 23,780.[17] Yet only two day-care centers were allotted for these ages, run by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor. In addition, as said, among the children subject to compulsory education, 18% (23,500) were not registered in any educational framework—municipal, “official but non-recognised,” or private.

The absence of educational frameworks, especially for the ages 0–3, presents a major obstacle for mothers seeking to enter the labor market, especially for a population that cannot afford to pay for private day-care.

Take, for example S., a single parent with six children aged 2 to 13. She was directed by the Employment Bureau to Hadassah (Ein Karem) Hospital as a cleaner, where she was accepted. She agreed to start work, but without any childcare arrangements for her little daughter, she was forced to bring her along on the second day. She was fired at once. The EB registered the incident as a job refusal, depriving her of her benefit for two months. She appealed. The appeals committee adjudicated: “Indeed this is not a simple situation, especially since the appellant is a single parent. The main thing is to be aware of the difficulties that arise in such situations. If indeed what the

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