News from Kayan Feminist Organization

Feminist Profile: Khulud Khamis

khulud

“How did you come to work in Kayan”

I’ve known Kayan since 2007 because I’ve worked here in this house, which is called Haifa Women’s Coalition. And I’ve known Kayan’s work from a distance, and then 2013 I finished working Isha L’Isha because I felt that it was time to move forward, both professionally and personally. When Rafah (director of Kayan) approached me in 2014 and offered me to join Kayan’s team, I didn’t hesitate and accepted. For me, personally, I found a second home in Kayan, because I feel that my place –professionally – is in feminist organizations.

“How has working at Kayan and with these women affected you?”

I’ve been working in feminist organizations and a feminist activist for many years now. But with Kayan, I’m learning new things all the time. This is the first time that I work for a Palestinian organization with a target group of only Arab women. Observing the fieldwork of Kayan, and specifically participating in the Jusur Forum retreats and annual conference has had a deep effect on me. I’ve seen the dedication and motivation of these women, their drive to change their reality, and it is inspiring. It gives me strength.

“Has it changed your views in terms of feminism?”

It has strengthened my conviction in the importance of working with the most marginalized and disenfranchised communities. From the work that I see, I can feel the burning need for empowering women. The women want to change their situation, but often they don’t have access to information, or to knowledge or even basic rights they are entitled to. So what they need is just the tools. They have the motivation. They want to change their situation.

“Is your daughter an inspiration for you in terms of feminism?”

My daughter is 20, and she grew up in this house. When I started working at Isha L’Isha in this same house, she was 12 years old. She has been raised not only by me, but by these women at the Haifa Women’s Coalition – the women of Isha L’Isha, Kayan, and Aswat. Of course she is an inspiration for me; she’s a different generation, and her feminism is different than mine. I learn from her all the time, and we hold conversations about feminist issues that are close to her heart.

“Do you see room for change from working here in this coalition?”

Definitely. The fact that we are four feminist organizations in this house constitutes a strength. Each of the four organizations has its own niche, but all work towards the improvement of women’s status. Change takes time, especially since we’re talking here about tangible social change, and we are trying to change things from the roots up. In Kayan, I have seen how the women from the groups in villages where we work are becoming much more involved in the public sphere, taking leading roles in their communities. It is still challenging work, as our society is primarily traditional and patriarchal, and women are still expected to remain in the private sphere, taking on the role of the caretaker. But women are challenging these notions and are standing up for their rights. Also, I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe that our work didn’t contribute to leading these changes.

“Is there an experience with Kayan that has been your inspiration?”

The two-day retreat of the Jusur Forum was very inspiring for me. Because my work is mainly behind the scenes in resource development, I spend most of my working hours behind the computer scene, and don’t come in direct contact with the grassroots women. This is why it’s important for me to periodically attend events, to get the real feel and a real sense of the challenges women in our society face. Their motivation is contagious. I’ve met so many strong and courageous women, who are a constant inspiration for me.

Khulud is the author of Haifa Fragments, a novel depicting the socio-political reality for Palestinian citizens of Israel, focusing on the lives of women. It is available on Amazon. You’re also welcome to read her blog at

www.HaifaFieldnotes.blogspot.com

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This entry was posted on October 1, 2015 by in General News.
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