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Women on Periphery in Israel Still Struggling

Tel Aviv University Professor Seeks Gender Equality Through Economic Empowerment
Genever McBain

Tel Aviv University Professor Seeks Gender Equality Through Economic Empowerment

(New York, NY -- February 08, 2007) -- As reports of sexual harassment charges at the highest levels dominate the news from Jerusalem, the good news is that these events are paradoxically “a sign of the strength of Israeli legal institutions,” as pertains to the status of women in Israel, according to Dr. Neta Ziv, Tel Aviv University Professor and the director of a legal clinic supported by the Hadassah Foundation.

The bad news is, according to Ziv, that women on the periphery are still not legally or economically empowered.

Ziv was in New York this week addressing issues of economic justice and gender equality in Israel at an event sponsored by the Hadassah Foundation and Tel Aviv University: American Council. She explained that while the cases of harassment are themselves harsh, their outcomes—public investigation and conviction of the high-profile offenders—show that the courts have “understood human reaction through the eyes of a woman, not a man.”

She cautioned, however, that this progressive outlook by the courts does not mean that women have reached a general state of equality in Israel. For the whole picture, it is necessary to “broaden our scope and look at women at the periphery,” she said, where women are still struggling.

“It is important to focus not on the sexy case of the female pilot in the air force, but the nitty gritty cases of women on welfare” she said, adding that these women face a complicated web of social policies.

Under the current Israeli system, modeled on the American welfare-to-work program, women who seek welfare benefits must take whatever job the government offers—sometimes forcing them to travel long distances to work long hours, leaving young children at home—or risk losing their benefits altogether.

Recognizing that “the workforce itself is not a solution to poverty,” Ziv’s clinic at Tel Aviv University School of Law allows her to address these issues in other ways by helping low-income women establish microenterprise businesses – small, home-based businesses that allow them to work toward economic independence on their own terms. The clinic provides these women with legal advice and assistance on a variety of matters, as well as empowerment training to help them adjust to running their own businesses.

In addition to the TAU clinic, The Hadassah Foundation supports 18 other projects in Israel that help women gain economic security through the establishment of microenterprise and cooperative businesses, financial training courses, and legal aid.


Date: 2/8/2007 12:00:00 AM

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