Women hold alternative conference in Haifa

Group will discuss the negative impact this past summer's war had on the economic and social status of disadvantaged women.

bomb shelter 298 AJ (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
bomb shelter 298 AJ
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
In a one-day symposium designed as an alternative to the Herzliya Conference, a coalition of women's organizations is set to meet this week to discuss the negative impact this past summer's war had on the economic and social status of disadvantaged women, especially those living in the North, and to consider how future military action would likely affect civilians in the region. The "Security for Whom?" conference is scheduled to take place Tuesday at the Cinematheque in Haifa, and is organized by the Coalition of Women for Peace together with Isha L'Isha, the Haifa Feminist Center. The conference "will focus on those left without security after the last war and before the next one," said Adi Dagan, a spokesperson for the Coalition of Women for Peace. "This conference is part of a larger campaign to redefine the concept of security," explained Dagan. "In Israel, the word 'security' is used to define a strong military that will defend us against enemies outside the country. We want to broaden that to include the individual's feelings of personal security." The conference will highlight the findings of a report compiled by the Mahut Center, a Haifa-based non-profit organization that assists disadvantaged women in securing employment. The report includes personal testimonies and statistics on the economic and occupational impact of the war, and examines cases of hunger and unemployment. "Our activities during the war increased," explained Ya'ara Buksbaum, the center's employment coordinator, who authored the report together with the center's directors Michal Dagan and Dorit Abramovitch. Mahut found that the war left many of Haifa's disadvantaged women in a state of desperation, and reported an overall loss of trust in the government. "We found that the war did not end with the cease-fire; there are still so many women who are in a continuing economic battle," Buksbaum said. "The recent war in Lebanon is a good example of how going to war had grave consequences on Israel's people," said Adi Dagan, adding that the conference would also examine Israel's nuclear arms policy. The event will feature presentations by Meretz MK Zahava Gal-On, Palestinian activist Terry Boullata, Greenpeace activist Merav Datan and president of the Nuclear Policy Research Institute, Dr. Helen Caldicott.