On February 22, Kayan-Feminist Organization, in cooperation with the Authority for the Advancement of Women in the Office of the Prime Minister and the Union of Local Authorities in Israel, launched the opening session of the professional training course, “Prevention of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace.” This accredited, eight-session program features a full curriculum of lectures, seminars, professional development workshops and educational materials designed to professionalize the efforts of Arab women appointees for the prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace.
Since 2008, Kayan has successfully advocated the mandatory appointment of liaisons for the prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace. Due in large part to Kayan’s intervention, 60% of Arab local authorities now adhere to the letter of this law. Beyond formal implementation however, Kayan is working to ensure its spirit is also realized by urging local authorities to provide appointees critical training and approve their participation in Kayan’s Forum of Appointees for Sexual Harassment Prevention. Through this program, Alhan Nahas-Daoud of Kayan’s Legal Department, aims to bring theoretical tools of awareness-raising and prevention of sexual harassment to bear in the practical realm of the workplace.
Many appointees do not understand the law, their duties and responsibilities, and are given inadequate information, training and support. Thus, Kayan provides tools to educate appointees on the law for the prevention of sexual harassment, employer responsibilities, and the role of the Commission for Equal Opportunity in the Workplace regarding the implementation of this law.
The first session, led by Kayan Board Member and Volunteer Coordinator of the Haifa Rape Crisis Center, Neveen Rizkalla, featured an exploration of preconceptions of “victim” and “offender,” as well as a discussion of feminine identity and sexuality. The purpose of this introduction was to help appointees relate more deeply to victims of sexual harassment crimes, as well as to allow our own staff to better understand the needs of the participants.
The workshop continued with a lecture by Michal Dagan, the director of the Mahut Center – Information, Guidance and Employment for Women, who spoke on sexual harassment at the workplace, the statistics and root causes of violence against women, economical gender gaps and the feminization of poverty. This information was new for many of the women, and one participant commented that the presentation had prompted her to consider new questions and concepts. The women were provided hard copies of the law in Arabic and Hebrew, as well as the regulations regarding the implementation of the law provided by the Ministry of Labor, Trade and Industry.
Alhan recognized the women’s need for additional emotional and professional support to accompany the legal aid given at the workshop. Overall, the women reflected that they had benefited from the session and were beginning to finally grasp the law in clear and understandable terms. Kayan looks forward to its ongoing working with these courageous women and will proudly support them as they work for the elimination of sexual violence in the workplace.