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Helping Israeli Women Step Out of Poverty rss

Posted on: October 6th, 2010

Minal, a Bedouin woman in Israel, makes and sells jewelry to the women in her Lakiya community. She uses a display cabinet in her home as a showcase, but she dreams of selling her creations beyond the boundaries of her town.

Through Let’s Get To Work! Minal learned business skills to help her step out of poverty in Israel.

Through Let’s Get To Work! Minal learned business skills to help her step out of poverty in Israel.

With the help of the Let’s Get to Work program supported by UJA-Federation of New York, Minal, who asked that we use only her first name, is learning the ins and outs of how to run a business and hopes one day to expand her customer base.

Let’s Get to Work helps both Jewish and Bedouin women in Israel learn skills to overcome economic and social barriers, thrive in the workplace, and step out of poverty.

For Minal, who is the mother of five children ranging in age from 4 to 14, the three-month program with 18 other women was a crucial link to understanding how to manage finances and legal issues, especially around taxes. The workshops, taught by staff at Yedid, a nonprofit Israeli organization, support community empowerment in underserved neighborhoods.

“I was able to learn everything essential for running my business,” she says. “I learned things that I would never have known about without doing the program. It has given me confidence to pursue my dream.”

Re’ut found the support of women helped give her the confidence to find a job.

Re’ut found the support of women helped give her the confidence to find a job.

By understanding how to manage her finances, Minal has found new freedom. “Being able to be in control of finances [means] I don’t have to go to my husband and ask for money for every single thing,” she explains. “It has given me some independence.”

The money Minal has earned from her new skills has already brought other benefits. “I bought a laptop computer for my daughter, and I have bought myself a secondhand car,” she says.

And the program is helping women participate more fully in their communities.

“It enables someone who has never been employed to contribute to her family’s income, her own self-esteem, and the bootstrapping of her entire family,” notes Ralph Marash, chair of UJA-Federation’s Poverty Task Force. “This Yedid program creates an immediate impact on families that directly passes through to future generations.”

Women Supporting One Another

Let’s Get to Work also provides another invaluable advantage: the support and caring of other women.

“It has been a wonderful experience to have the support of other women, especially women from my family,” says Minal. “It has shown me how much they care for me and my success.”

That support is also vital for Re’ut, a Jewish woman who participated in Let’s Get to Work in Ashkelon.

“What helped me gain self-confidence was being with a group of women who were all in the same situation, and hearing stories from the other women who were overcoming obstacles to going back to work,” says Re’ut. “All the women were united in the same goal and supported and encouraged each other.”

With the help of the program, Re’ut, who is the mother of a 14-month-old daughter, found work as a clerk.

“The program gave me direction not to despair, and that I would find work.” Re’ut adds, “And I didn’t despair, thanks to them.”

Her earnings have allowed Re’ut to help with household expenses, and she has a goal now of becoming a bookkeeper.

“I saw I was not alone,” she notes. “As soon as you’re with other women that are going through the same thing as you, you see it’s easier to go through it all together.”