Arab women workers

Needless to say, the economic contribution made by Arab women who work in Jerusalem is significant.

Arab woman phone operator (ILLUSTRATIVE) (photo credit: INIMAGE)
Arab woman phone operator (ILLUSTRATIVE)
(photo credit: INIMAGE)
Thirty-seven percent of Jerusalem’s population aged 15 and over are Arabs. The employment rate among Arab women in east Jerusalem is significantly lower than that of Arab men in east Jerusalem, and much lower than the employment rate of Arab women in Israel in general. According to the Jerusalem Statistical Yearbook, which is due to be published on Jerusalem Day, the percentage of Arab women between the ages of 25 and 64 participating in the labor force in Jerusalem in 2016 was only 22%, compared to 35% among Arab women in Israel.
In recent years, the government has been making efforts to raise the employment rate in general and among Arab women in particular. Indeed, the overall employment rate has risen in the past decade, as has the employment rate of Arab women, which was only 23.4% a decade ago, according to the 2010 Report of the Committee for Examination of Employment Policy.
Notwithstanding, among Arab women in Jerusalem there’s been no significant change in employment rates in recent years, and the rate still hovers around 20%. It appears, then, that official policies have not achieved their desired effect.
One barrier leading to the failure of these policies is the language barrier. Most east Jerusalem residents study in schools operating according to the Palestinian system, which does not require Hebrew studies. In addition, dropout rates at east Jerusalem schools are extremely high, and as a result 43% of Arab women aged 15+ did not graduate from high school. One of the prerequisites for being hired in skilled jobs is a vocational certificate, having completed high school.
Arab women also prefer to work in the eastern part of the city, which offers them an increased sense of security. A third reason is that Arab women tend to leave their jobs or stop their vocational training when they get married.
Moreover, data show that there has been an increase in unemployment rates among Arab women in Jerusalem (women who are actively looking for work but cannot find a job). In 2015, the rate was 4%, but rose to 9% in 2016. However, this might indicate a positive trend in which more Arab women have begun actively looking for work in Jerusalem. Needless to say, the economic contribution made by Arab women who work in Jerusalem is significant. A study conducted by The Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research estimates that the integration of Arab women into the job market in the short term could increase city revenues by NIS 457 million to NIS 643m. a year.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.