NCJW’s 2018 – 2019 Israel Grant Recipients

1. NCJW Women and Gender Studies Program at Tel Aviv University (TAU)

Project: Alumni Association – In 2001 at Tel Aviv University, NCJW endowed the very first Women and Gender Studies Program in all of Israel (the program awarded BA’s – the MA program soon followed). Fast forward to 2017: NCJW funded the launching of the NCJW Women and Gender Studies Alum Association, a relatively new phenomenon in Israel; over 100 graduates gathered at the alumni launch! This year the grant is helping the Alum translate their academic learning into projects serving communities. For their first project, the alumni are working with young women at risk (17-18 year olds) at Manof Youth Village, introducing the young women to concepts of feminism, women’s empowerment, and gender equality, and engaging them in activities to expand their horizons. Shortly after the first Alum/Manof gathering, the young women themselves decided to attend a big demonstration protesting violence against women, a powerful decision.

2. Women Wage Peace (WWP) – with 40,000 members and growing, WWP is a volunteer-driven NGO of (mostly) women activists engaging the public both at the grassroots and in the halls of Knesset, demanding a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Their central slogan states, “Right, center and left demand a political solution!” NCJW supports WWP as it continues its quest to reach into all parts of Israeli society (including among settlers).

The two projects we especially focus on are 1) WWP efforts to build conversations in typically right-wing leaning towns where opportunities are few to discuss non-violent means to end the conflict. (Discussions engage Israeli women on questions concerning their personal and communal role in resolving the current conflict, the need for women’s voices in calling for peace, and rebuilding trust based on commonalities between communities.); and 2) advocacy in the Knesset and among citizens to pass an innovative bill requiring Knesset to discuss solutions to the peace process other than violence when conflict flares, and towards a comprehensive solution.

3. Itach-Maaki – Women Lawyers for Social Justice

Itach-Maaki is an organization that aims to create social change by using legal avenues to address the needs and rights of women from the social, economic and geographic periphery of Israel. For example, Itach –Maaki was a leader in the successful Supreme Court Case demanding that women be included in the by-laws of religious Knesset parties that had previously prohibited women from running.

Project: UN Proposal1325 – for a conference and to develop a national innovation center on UN Proposal 1325 which advances the promotion of women as leaders in all aspects of war prevention, protection of women in war, and peacebuilding.

4. Isha l’Isha – Haifa Feminist Center

Project: Women without Status is a new field of interest. The NCJW grant supports Isha L’Isha as it researches this new are., Women Without Status include survivors of trafficking from other countries; African refugees; Palestinian women from the territories who have married Israeli Palestinians – these are some of the women (and their children) who have little civil status in Israel and need help with healthcare, housing, and other aid.

5. Israel Women’s Network (IWN)

Project: Advancing Feminist Policy – IWN is a central address for feminist advocacy in the Knesset, promoting gender equality in legislative and policy-making processes. IWN focuses on the exclusion of women from the public sphere and public institutions, mostly due to ultra-orthodox influence, and on discrimination in the workplace; IWN runs a public hotline for those experiencing discrimination at work.

6. Mahapach- Taghir

Project: Second Opportunity: Higher Education for Marginalized Women – Mahapach-Taghir is a remarkable organization that emphasizes Israel as a shared society of the Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel, and also addresses the particular impact of economic poverty and social marginalization on women. The project supported by the NCJW grant focuses on educational opportunities for women who had little hope of attaining higher degrees and supports them to take courses in university, receive certificates and eventually university degrees. The status of these women increases in their families, the communities and in themselves, and they become activists and leaders in their communities.

7. Israel Hofsheet (Israel Be Free)

Project: Strengthening Equal Rights in Israel by Promoting Marriage Alternatives – Israel Hofsheet works on issues involving the lack of separation between Religion and State in Israel. In particular, NCJW supports their Havaya unit and its work to advance and implement common law marriage in Israel. In Israel where there is no civil law for marriage and divorce, the ultra-orthodox rabbinate holds sway  – to the detriment especially of women and to the LGBTQ community. Israel Hofsheet trains lawyers to educate the public, draw up affidavits and issue special ID cards formalizing the common law status of a couple. Havaya also works with couples who are interested in a Jewish ceremony but do not want to involve the Rabbinate.

8. Kayan – advocates for and organizes women in the Palestinian community in Israel.

Project: Organizing for Elections – Kayan is a grassroots feminist organization established in 1999, working in the field of women’s empowerment and promoting the rights of Palestinian citizens in Israel. Through overlapping programs that include legal and community organizing work, Kayan strives to consolidate an active, systematic, nationwide grassroots feminist movement that actively effects social change through contesting the root causes of gender-based discrimination, defending and promoting the rights of Arab women, and ensuring their integration in public life and decision-making processes in all spheres of life. Kayan believes in a secure and just society, free of gender-based discrimination, in which Palestinian women in Israel enjoy full and equitable opportunities for self-actualization, and take a leading part in society through realizing their individual and collective rights.

9. Jerusalem Open House – Jerusalem’s LGBTQ center for support, advocacy, and activities

Project: Community Building – the focus of the grant is on building a stable community of LGBTQ activists and participants and increasing the number of support groups (the most active leaders tend to come from the university and so typically leave the community after graduating). An LGBTQ center is especially helpful in Jerusalem, one of the more conservative cities in Israel.

10. Niroot Forum for Girls at Risk– Coalition of 10 organizations serving and advocating for different aspects of young women at risk

Project: Creating a Gender Sensitive Employment model – young women at risk who have been abused are at further risk once they outgrow the foster system; while young men may begin army service, typically young women are usually not eligible for the army due to their at-risk situations and the lesser need for women soldiers. Young women, therefore, must search for employment, but models of social service tend to be geared to young men. This grant supports research and conferences looking for the best models for gender-sensitive employment.

11. WePower special grant –NCJW’s special grant supported a PR and marketing campaign to encourage Israelis to vote for candidates supporting gender equality in the local elections held in Israel on October 30th, 2018. Before the municipal elections, out of 256 local municipalities, only 6 were led by women mayors, with no women mayors in Arab communities. The elections doubled the number of women mayors and the number of women representatives on local councils; while this was deemed a great success, the percentages are so low that it meant that the percentage doubled from 2% to 5% of women elected locally, still a very small percentage. However, there were some especially meaningful gains – for example, the third largest city in Israel, Haifa, is now headed by a woman mayor.

12. JWFN Collaborative Grant In addition to the annual grants, NCJW is involved in a 2-year collaborative grant process as part of the Jewish Women’s Funding Network. The current grant supports advocacy on the issue of “economic abuse” in which women, due to their status as contract workers, are exposed to workplace discrimination. The grant focuses on advocacy for justice and change in labor rights and conditions in the contract employee service sector. The focus of this collaborative grant is on care and service employees which are made up mostly of women.

13. NIF/Dafna Fund/NCJW joint micro-grants – this joint grant, to support individual activists and projects, was inspired by NCJW’s major research project in partnership with the Dafna Fund and carried out by Dr. Nancy Strichman in 2017. This microgrant pool was announced at our national feminist conference in March 2018 in Tel Aviv: 16 small grants ranging from $2,000-$5,000 were awarded to organizations and independent feminist activists

14. Emergency Grant for the RED FLAG DAY Protesting Violence Against Women: granted to the Israel Women’s Network (IWN) – In the wake of the alarming numbers of murders of women in Israel, over 25 in the past year, the whole country was galvanized. Women’s and feminist organizations came together in unprecedented force through networking. They hold protests and strikes across communities throughout Israel, with companies and government offices allowing demonstrators to leave their jobs without penalty to participate in the demonstrations.

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