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Kayan-Feminist Organization

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Nonprofit Overview

Mission: We are a group of feminists who aim to advance the status of Palestinian women in Israel. The women of Kayan-Feminist Organization envision a secure and just society, in which Arab women in Israel enjoy full and equitable opportunities for self-expression and self-actualization. We invest in the development of grassroots leadership to catalyze social change grounded in the elimination of gender disparity. Kayan values pragmatism in the democratization of the public sphere, fosters genuine agency among Arab women and brings their influence directly to bear upon the realization of their rights.

Results: For nearly thirteen years, Kayan has implemented personal empowerment programs with women’s groups in Northern and Central Israel, reaching hundreds of women in dozens of communities. In 2008, Kayan launched its flagship project “Jusur,” bringing an important institutional framework to its empowerment work and ensuring the durability of myriad initiatives for social change. Support of grassroots community organizing in Arab villages has emerged as a key element of Kayan’s work, a tool that empowers women to overcome imbalances and improve their lives in tangible ways. Through this multi-year, intensive approach to empowerment and leadership training, Kayan educates emerging Arab women leaders about: activism and community work for social change; laws and rights through a prism of gender; women, power and politics; group dynamics; and effective leadership. We strengthen civil society institution building among Arab women with: human, technical and financial resources; ongoing professional development support; and access to frameworks for inter-organizational networking and collaboration. In the past three years, “Jusur” has provided a foundation for Kayan’s program of professional counseling, training and exchange, which has grown to include 33 leaders of 15 individual, sustaining community projects. Legal Aid: Each year, our advocates provide consultation and legal representation to scores of low-income Arab women in need; nearly two-thirds of whom require assistance in the domain of family law. In Israel two parallel, overlapping- and in some cases competing- family court systems exist side by side. As Israel does not recognize domestic civil unions, such matters remain the province of the religious court system. Kayan works to ensure that Arab women have the tools and knowledge they need to protect their rights, live with dignity and acheive civil equality. Rights Education: - Prevention of Sexual Harassment at the Workplace - Ending Discrimination against Women in the Religious Courts - Elimination of the Race of Authorities - Enforcement of the Minimum Wage Law

Target demographics: Arab women in Israel face multiple layers of discrimination both as members of the marginalized Palestinian national minority in Israel and as women within a characteristically patriarchic society. They remain the poorest, least paid and least educated segment of the community and with drastically inadequate protection, are subject to wide-ranging social and institutional discrimination. Their situation is made worse by their lack of political representation and access to public decision-making. Since 1948, only one woman has been nominated as Head of an Arab local council, and of the 120 elected representatives of the Knesset, Hanin Zoabi remains the only Arab woman. Endemic barriers to equal participation in the public sphere have threatened the personal status and security of Palestinian women in Israel and led to widespread economic stagnation among this group.According to the 2007 Socio-economic Survey of the Rikaz Databank of the Galilee Society, less than 19% of Arab women participate in the workforce (compared to over 56% of Jewish women); furthermore, of Palestinian women active in the labor force, nearly 14% are unemployed. With limited opportunity to participate in the workforce, four in five Palestinian women in Israel continue to fulfill a traditional domestic role. Yet women who aim to challenge this traditional model and seek novel opportunities for self-realization encounter an environment that is ill prepared to support such a step. Requisites of adequate transportation, employment opportunities and forums of exchange with women in similar situations go largely unfulfilled. Palestinian women in Israel have scant access to public decision-making processes and assert little influence within the local and regional political spheres.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 1,000

Programs: Legal Department: - Legal Aid - Rights Education - Legal Advocacy Community Work Department: - Jusur (Bridges) - An Active Approach to Personal Economy - Gender Equality in Local Budgets

Community Stories

1 Story from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


Rating: 5

As an American volunteer with Kayan-Feminist Organization, I have been truly inspired by the work of the women of Kayan. The staff empower Palestinian women at the grassroots level so that they are able to make changes within their own lives and communities. No change is forced on the women from above. The unique programs initiated by Kayan instill Arab women with the confidence, knowledge and skills to participate in the public sphere, to overcome imbalances and improve their lives in tangible ways.