On February 2nd, Kayan opened a new year of activities within the framework of our flagship Jusur program with the first meeting of the Women`s Forum in 2011. More than 40 activists from 19 villages, together with the staff of the Department of Community Work, launched a new national action strategy that will comprise the core of our support for Arab women`s activism throughout the coming year.
Participants began the meeting with an evaluation of the Annual Conference of the Women of Jusur (December 2010), which dealt with the subject of local partnerships and the women`s efforts on the ground within in their communities. All of the participants agreed upon the success of the conference, concerning both its technical and substantive aspects.
Staff of the Department of Community Work then reviewed the initiatives and accomplishments of the Jusur program in 2010, which included meetings of the Forum, the work of the Steering Committee on the subject of local cooperation and the planning of the Annual Conference, the law concerning the appointment of a women`s issues liaison in all local authorities in Israel and parliamentary inquiry regarding compliance with this law (executed at our request with the sponsorship of Member of Knesset Hanin Zoabi), work with the various empowerment groups, and professional consultation and accompaniment for the projects within the Jusur program.
In addition to this annual review, Kayan`s Reem Zoabi and Rafah Anabtawi explained to forum participants the comprehensive framework of Kayan`s Department of Community Work, detailing each of our programs therein (Jusur, Active Approach to Personal Economy, Women`s Forum for Budget Equality) – in order to contextualize our mission and elucidate our overall strategic approach.
Kayan also presented the Jusur Forum Action Plan, which in 2011 will focus on the leadership capabilities of the women of the forum and feature four meetings, as well as a two-day intensive retreat/seminar. This year, our primary aims are to assist the women of Jusur to professionalize their leadership, increase their activism and focus their messages of change. We seek to help them ascertain immediate needs and long-term trends, articulate specific goals and develop practical strategies to accomplish them.
The meeting was concluded with a lecture by the feminist activist Ms. Areen Haware, who serves as Media and Education Coordinator in the local NGO Sewwar. In her presentation, entitled “Women in the Public Sphere,” Ms. Haware raised fundamental questions about the concept of politics and women`s participation in this domain as a catalyst for change. She framed the concept of feminism as a political movement that aims to breach the barriers women face between the private and public spheres and advised participants on how they might become more involved in the circles of decision-making. To bring about genuine societal change, she stressed, feminism cannot be separated from politics.