More than 40 members of the Jusur Forum of Arab Women Leaders attended the group’s first meeting of 2013 to reflect on the Forum’s work over the last several years and discuss its future goals.
The meeting was opened by the director of Kayan-Feminist Organization, Rafah Anabtawi, who described the achievements of the Forum since its founding by Kayan in 2008. When it was created with the objective of developing and institutionalizing the country’s Arab women’s movement, the Forum was the first of its kind in the Arab community, both in terms of its methodology and its high degree of contact with women in the field. Today, Rafah told the audience that the Forum’s dream of establishing a women’s movement has begun to materialize. A few participants spoke about their pride in the Forum’s progress towards this goal, and one participant, Diana Hussein, noted in an interview that the increasing number of women participating in the Forum since its inception underscores the need for the Forum’s existence.
Other presentations highlighted the Forum’s activities in the past year. Suhair Al-Hussein, member of the Forum and of the women’s group in Deir Hanna, facilitated a discussion and evaluation of the Forum’s activities in 2012 and urged participants to be active in the coming year. Anwar Mansoor, a community organizer with Kayan summarized joint projects between the twenty women’s groups represented in the Forum and Kayan’s Department of Community Work. She highlighted the women’s group from the village of Makr, which recently began working with the Forum on a project to promote women’s leadership in health rights, and described partnerships between Kayan and other organizations including the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and the Association for the Defense of the Rights of the Internally Displaced.
Later in the day, attendees participated in a workshop facilitated by Anabtawi to explore the needs of women in the Forum and determine actions that can be taken in the coming year to address them. Participants brought up topics including feminist action, holistic health, conflict resolution, and the role of women’s empowerment in resolving disputes.
In closing, members of the Forum took time to honor the former Director of Kayan, Rula Deeb, who stepped down after ten years with the organization. Nidal Kenana and Tammam Shalash, members of women’s groups in Nazareth and Barabh, respectively, spoke on behalf of the members of the Forum to express their esteem for Kayan, and especially for Rula, for all her work promoting the rights of Arab women.