May 14: Arab women in the workplace

Arab women are discriminated against not only as women but also as Arab citizens.

Arab women in the workplace
Sir, – In the quest for social justice which we hope will arise from Israel's acceptance to the OECD this week, equal opportunities for all Israel's citizens must be created (“OECD membership will increase emphasis on social issues,” May 11).
Although it is true that women in Israel face inequality in the workplace as well as barriers such as costly childcare and inflexible work hours, Arab women face inequality even before reaching the workplace, being discriminated against not only as women but also as Arab citizens. For Arab women, further barriers include a severe lack of childcare in their towns, lack of transport to and from the workplace and lack of commercial and industrial areas in and near Arab towns.
According to the recent OECD report, 60 percent of Israel’s Arab citizens live below the poverty line. By bringing home an extra paycheck, Arab women play a large role in helping their families out of the poverty cycle. The latest human resources report from the national statistics bureau states that 20.5% of Arab women work, as opposed to 56.7% of Jewish women.
A women’s employment initiative, Sharikat Haya, run by The Abraham Fund Initiatives, has made concrete progress in enhancing the socioeconomic status of Arab women. In 2009, 400 women applied to join the program, though only 110 could be accepted. This demonstrates that the low percentage of Arab women in the workforce is not due to cultural obstacles or traditional framework.
However, these women will not find work unless fair job opportunities are provided for all women and practical steps are taken to combat the barriers mentioned above.
    SHELLY SHARRON    The Abraham    Fund Initiatives    Neve Ilan
A day of waiting...
Sir, – At about 4 p.m. on Jerusalem Day, I emerged from the Mahane Yehuda market and went over to the bus stop to get home to Beit Hakerem (“Flags, parades and lots of police – Jerusalem Day passes without any major incidents,” May 13). There were about 60 people there, and more kept coming. It was hot, there was no shade and nowhere to sit down. We waited and waited, and presently more people started passing by in the direction of the Central Bus Station and telling us no buses were running. I started walking with my bag (I am nearly 80) until I saw a taxi (NIS 30).
I was one of the lucky ones. The driver told me that Egged does this regularly on Jerusalem Day; it sends down buses to bring people up from the coast, and just lets Jerusalemites wait.
I very much resent this. What is the point of making a political statement about Jerusalem if it is at the expense of the ordinary people of Jerusalem?
    HELEN LEVENSTON    Jerusalem
...and unity
Sir, – Jerusalem Day is always an extraordinary experience, but thisyear, it positively exploded with happiness from nearly all sections ofthe population. The streets in the center of Jerusalem were filled withreligious Zionist youth of all types and many secular youth as well.They came by the thousands from outside Jerusalem and were joined inthe capital by thousands more young people who call Jerusalem home.They came from such different parts of Israel as Tivon, Karmiel,Ofakim, Haifa and Tel Aviv. The joy I experienced just in walking formRehov Keren Kayemet L’yisrael to Rehov Ben Yehuda was simply amazing;from there, they went on to the Kotel.
I plead with theKnesset to do more to make this an even greater holiday than it is.Jerusalem Day should be celebrated all over the country, with organizedgroups being able to enter the capital easily, and every kibbutz,moshav and hamlet should be filled with the spirit that links all thepopulation to the Holy City.
This is the way to make Jerusalemthe focal point of the entire nation as we do more than state thatJerusalem means the unity of all the Jewish people.
    TOBY WILLIG    Jerusalem