In January 2015, Kayan’s Jusur (Bridges) National Forum of Arab Women Leaders held a network meeting in the village of Kaukab Abu El Heja that focused on two main themes; women’s health, and violence against women.
The first part of the network meeting was titled “The Sustainable Leadership for Women’s Health” Program. Kayan’s community organizer opened with a short presentation of the program, the issues it deals with, and some of the recent achievements. Representatives of three local women’s groups from the villages of Deir Hanna, Sulam, and Yaffit Al-Nasrah then each shared their group’s work and achievements on the local level. Group work on the topic of health followed in the form of workshops. The workshops focused on the following: suggestions for expanding the health program to additional villages; what are the health needs in different villages and how can the health program be expanded so that additional villages can benefit from the experiences of the villages that are already working on the issue and, what is the role of the Jusur Forum in contributing to the development and expansion of the Health Program. Within each of these workshops women brought up issues, and proposed solutions and ideas relating to the topics of the workshops. Some ideas proposed by the women included organizing national health conferences, planning a public health day in the villages in which all families can undergo specific preventative exams on the same day and in coordination with local HMOs, and recruiting Knesset members and health ministry officials to promote health programs.
The second part of the network meeting was on the theme of battling violence against women. The workshop in this section was titled What Can I do and Where Can I go? Our Role as Women Leaders in the Jusur Forum. The workshop included definitions of violence, and participants gave their own interpretations of the term. Then, under the guidance of Kayan’s Community Organizers, the women brainstormed on the topic of violence. They examined the varied manifestations of violence. They did a simulation of a specific case of a battered woman that lead to a discussion of how they would respond if approached by the battered woman for assistance. Some conclusions generated by the women included: violence does not cease at a certain age or in certain generations, and it is critical to deal with abusers and not only focus on victims since this can perpetuate abuse. This part of the network meeting concluded with the decision to hold a national event on violence against women,
These two themes are among the central themes the Jusur Forum has been focusing on in 2014, and they will expand their work on them in 2015. Together, Kayan and Jusur are planning national activities on both these issues this year in order to put them on the public agenda and promote the health status of Palestinian women in Israel and eradicate the phenomenon of women’s murder.