International Women's Day: Israel
CAFOD partner WAC (Women in Agriculture), 40 km north of Tel Aviv , is an organisation which works to find Arab women employment in Israel.
High levels of poverty among Arab families living in Israel have been made worse by the patriarchal Arab society that would prefer to see women at home. Unfortunately the few women that do go out to work often face exploitation in the guise of ra’is or middle men who organise work without any social benefits and skim already meagre wages.
Danny Ben Simhoh, the WAC field coordinator talks about how there are many barriers to getting Arab women into decent employment. Even the most basic issues such as transportation are problematic when few women own a car and where travelling with a man is not allowed unless he is a family member.
“It’s not a simple thing for these women to go out to work. We’re talking about a traditional society where it is a big issue for women to go to work. They are sometimes forced to go to work but they don’t get control over their own salary. However with women who get work through WAC, I’ve noticed a sense of liberation, the women are always laughing and making jokes. There was a sense that they like going to work – to be out of the house.”
Sewar Qatawi, 36 used to have to find work in hotels through middle men who after deducting money for transport, food and other fees left her with almost nothing after a day’s work.
“We are very happy when we are working because we know we will get all our rights and the full salary. The salary comes on time. With the contractor it never came on time. I’ve had a car for three years. When my father died my mother got money from his life insurance and she helped me buy a car. Women who have a car don't need the middle man.”