Women as Agents for Change
Amal Alabid – Promoting Legal Rights for Bedouin Day Laborers
Amal Alnasasrah Alabid is changing the lives of black Bedouin women in the Negev Desert in southern Israel. These women are perhaps the most marginalized group in the country: Bedouin, black, female, and day laborers.
Amal is a graduate of ‘Bedouin Women for our Rights,’ a training course run by Shatil together with Ma’an, the Bedouin Women’s Umbrella Organization in the Negev. She is now engaged in mentoring the group of Bedouin day laborers. In a series of weekly meetings, the women learn what a salary slip is (something they do not receive); that Israel has a minimum wage and laws that prescribe how many hours a person can work (they work from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m.); and that their employer must give them protective equipment when they work with pesticides (they don’t even receive gloves). The women come from the poorest neighborhood in the Negev Bedouin town of Rahat, and are often the sole wage earners for their families. The women have expressed how much they appreciate the opportunity to learn that they have rights and how to exercise them.
Shatil provides consulting and training services to over 170 women’s organizations. These NGOs are committed to a variety of goals, ranging from providing equal opportunities for men and women to putting an end to domestic violence to advocating for women whose husbands have refused to grant them a divorce.
In its campaign to empower women, Shatil employs strategies such as:
Outreach to women in outlying areas.
Activism Training for female leaders of community-based enterprises.
Capacity Building workshops and consultations on the topics of organizational and resource development, advocacy skills, economic empowerment, etc.
Partnering with like-minded organizations.
Advocating for Dignity and Equality in the Workplace
Working women face a multitude of difficulties, inequities and injustices. Shatil and the Israel Women’s Network have organized the Forum for Equality and Dignity in the Labor Market, which unites stakeholders from civil society, business, government, and academia. The forum serves as a platform for information sharing, cooperation, and the monitoring of policies, legislation and practices that affect working women. Shatil provides trainings to enhance the collective and individual capacity of organizations to improve the lot of women in the workforce.
Hundreds of Jewish women are trapped in abusive or unhappy marriages because their husbands have refused to grant them a divorce (get). Their future is determined not only by their husbands but also by backwards-thinking civil and religious institutions in Israel.
Shatil, in partnership with International Coalition for Agunah Rights (ICAR), achieved a major victory with the passing of a bill allowing for property settlements without a writ of divorce. Shatil continues its active role in the crusade for equitable and timely divorces.
Work with Minority Women
Shatil reaches out to minority women, instructing them in how to generate grassroots changes. In the Negev, for instance, Shatil offers empowerment courses, which provide practical information, nurture self-esteem, and foster community involvement. The thousands of women who have graduated from these courses over the years have been instrumental in establishing new women’s organizations and making meaningful changes in their communities.
Yachdav is a Shatil-initiated and -guided coalition of Ethiopian women and men, formed to address the crisis of domestic violence in the Ethiopian community. This group of activists educates the community in prevention, advocates for policy change in the government and the Knesset, and recruits high-level partners to work together to combat this phenomenon.
The Yachdav coalition wants to make sure its message against domestic violence and in favor of Shalom Bait – family peace make its way into every Ethiopian home in the country. The coalition produced an audio CD, narrated in Amharic by well known Ethiopian-Israeli actors, that has been distributed to thousands of Ethiopian households, community and absorption centers, and schools across Israel. As well, the CD has been syndicated on Amharic language radio stations and programs. The CD contains messages from religious leaders and multiple dialogue scenes featuring both constructive and destructive conversations between husbands and wives, among children and battered women, and conversations with top Ethiopian-Israeli psychologists and social workers.