Fair Trade, Fair Employment

<p>On Sunday, December 22, 2013, the conference for the integration of Arab women in the workforce was held at the Tel-Aviv University under the title “Fair Trade, Fair Employment”. The conference was an initiative of the Sindyanna of Galilee Fair Trade Association, Independent Union Center Ma’an, the Bread and Roses art exhibition, and Italian NGO Cospe, within the EU-funded “Fair Trade Fair Peace” project. Tens of agricultural workers from the Arab Triangle region, women active at the Sindyanna of Galilee visitors’ center in Kufr Manda, Tel-Avivis, and Jaffans attended.</p>

A conference for the integration of Arab women in the Israeli workforce

On Sunday, December 22, 2013, the conference for the integration of Arab women in the workforce was held at the Tel-Aviv University under the title “Fair Trade, Fair Employment”. The conference was an initiative of the Sindyanna of Galilee Fair Trade Association, Independent Union Center Ma’an, the Bread and Roses art exhibition, and Italian NGO Cospe, within the EU-funded “Fair Trade Fair Peace” project. Tens of agricultural workers from the Arab Triangle region, women active at the Sindyanna of Galilee visitors’ center in Kufr Manda, Tel-Avivis, and Jaffans attended.

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The reason the conference was held was the predicament of Arab women in Israel, at least 75% of whom are outside the workforce and have no wages, causing deepening poverty in 60% of the Arab population. The conference’s objective is to influence Israeli public opinion, and through it policy makers, to stop talking about the need to solve the problem of employment and idleness among Arab women and start doing something to help them out of poverty and unemployment.

The audience was welcomed by Hanan Mandareh, director of the Sindyanna of Galilee visitor center at Kufr Manda, who talked about the collaboration of three forces – Arab women from Israel, Jewish women, and women from the West Bank, who believe in true peace between the two peoples and promote the creation of real economic opportunities. “I do not exaggerate when I say that behind every basket an Arab woman weaves at the visitor center, there is an amazing story of struggle, stubbornness, and a true desire to change herself and make a difference.”

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Hanan Mandareh, director of the Sindyanna of Galilee visitor center

The evening was hosted by Michal Shwartz, who explained the rationale for Ma’an’s project: “Because we have no faith in the current right-wing government’s willingness to invest in solving the unemployment and welfare problems facing Arab women, we demand that the government stop – that is, stop the shameful importation of Thai laborers into Israel, preventing Arab women from being integrated in agricultural work. This is shown by the Ma’an project for Arab women’s integration in agriculture, which has been operating for 8 years now, succeeding at integrating about 250 women a year in temporary positions.

“Ma’an’s project cannot come instead of developing the education system, the training, the industry and transportation infrastructures, and sound governance in the Arab municipalities; only these can bridge the huge gaps between Arabs and Jews in Israel. Our project is designed to offer immediate relief to the tens of thousands of untrained women who could be incorporated in labor immediately and provided with a living. We are convinced that the economic factors will force the government, present or future, to change its policy. We want to bring the future closer now. Help us.”

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Michal Shwartz

The first speaker was Nitsa Kaliner Kasir, head of the Labor and Labor Policy Division at the Bank of Israel’s Research Department, who co-edited the report on “Arab Women in the Israeli Labor Market: Characteristics and Policy Proposals” together with Prof. Eran Yashiv, head of the Public Policy Department at Tel-Aviv University.

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