Palestinian-Arab women face multiple layers of discrimination both as members of a marginalized national minority and as women within a patently patriarchic Arab society. With limited opportunity to participate in the workforce, four in five Arab women in Israel continue to fulfill a traditional domestic role within the domain of the household. Women who aim to challenge this traditional model, seek opportunities for self-realization and actualize novel expressions of self-determination typically encounter an environment that is ill prepared to support such a step. An Arab woman’s choice to pursue an alternative lifestyle comes with a multitude of pressing needs but in Israel, requisites of adequate transportation, employment opportunities and forums of exchange with women in similar situations go largely unfulfilled. Furthermore, within Arab local authorities, positions of influence and access to resources remain almost exclusively in the hands of men.
Consequently, Palestinian women in Israel have less access to frameworks of decision-making and assert less meaningful influence within political processes. Endemic barriers to equal participation in the public sphere have threatened the personal status and security of these women throughout society.
Durable solutions to this socio-economic crisis require an essential recognition of the interconnectedness of myriad factors. Effective approaches must address social – as well as political – impediments to development. Our experience has shown that the journey toward self-realization begins within the individual, spreads as cooperative action across a community of women, ushers new leaders into the halls of influence and fundamentally redefines the role of women in society. At each stage, Kayan provides the infrastructure, know-how and support to bring these visions to fruition.