An innovative model for advancing women who survived domestic violence was presented at the UN

  (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)

The Rashi Foundation, Google and the Ministry of Welfare and Social Affairs together with the Israeli delegation to the UN, presented at the UN the innovative model of ‘Her Way’. This program promotes financial independence for women survivors of domestic violence by training for tech jobs, thereby increasing their chances to break out of the circle of violence.

The session, with the participation of Israel's ambassador to the UN, Mr. Gilad Erdan, and Rashi’s CEO Michal Cohen, took place on March 16 as a side event that was part of the 67th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York. The program serves as an example of innovative cross-sector collaboration that can be duplicated in many countries around the world, transforming the lives of women who are survivors of domestic violence.

It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of Israeli women face varied forms of violence at home. One of the main barriers that prevent many of them from leaving and embarking on a new chapter is financial dependence on an abusive partner. Some are deep in debt, and others were prevented from going out to work or from getting access to the money they have earned. Her Way program is based on the understanding that these women’s journey only starts when they exit the relationship, and that it requires rebuilding of personal and occupational capabilities that will allow them to reach financial independence.

The program is designed to address two major national challenges: increasing diversity and gender equality in high-tech, and tackling violence against women. 

The innovative program is a joint initiative of the Rashi Foundation, the Ministry of Welfare and Social Affairs and Google, with the 8200 Alumni Association. It offers the participants professional training for employment in high-tech, as well as guidance through the placement process. This improves their career development opportunities and their chances to break free of the financial dependence on the abusive partner.

The participants go through pre-training preparation to strengthen skills and proficiency in math, English and digital orientation; this is followed by a professional training course in data analysis, network administration and so on. At the end of the course and after passing a certification test, they also receive individual and group guidance in the job search process. They enjoy personal and emotional support throughout the program and during the first months on the job, including mentoring by women with high-tech careers.

“The program succeeds in drawing out the best qualities and abilities of women who experienced repression on a daily basis”, says S., a woman in her thirties who was in an abusive relationship for several years. She was hired a few months ago to set up the IT system in a start-up company, and has recently been offered a promotion.

“When I wanted to advance to senior positions at work, he always put barriers in my way. I felt worthless. In time I realized that something is wrong, that it’s not my fault”, S. adds. “I used to think that tech jobs were beyond my reach, and now I suddenly have the courage to try. I am working in high-tech and expect a promotion soon, and most important – I see financial independence on the horizon. The program reminds us of the inner source of strength we all have.”

S. is not alone. Her Way paves the road for many women without work experience. One of the program’s graduates is G., a mother of ten children working in the cyber field in a high-tech company. “I have an academic degree in a related field, but no experience. The course gave me another profession but also hope, the ability to see the light. I got the push to go out there and succeed in providing for my children. I polished my CV until I got the chance. They believed in me, in my capabilities, and I am very happy to be where I am now.”

The model of Her Way represents an innovative approach to creating opportunities for excluded populations, as well as an example of cross-sector cooperation between civil society organizations, government and the business community, which can be duplicated in many countries around the world and used in the effort to overcome violence.

The Rashi Foundation is one of the leading philanthropies in Israel, generating sustainable social mobility in Israel’s periphery on a national scale. The Foundation has been working for almost 40 years to create cradle-to-career opportunities in education, social welfare and employment for underserved populations, an agenda that includes the advancement of women. In 2021 Rashi was accredited by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) as a consultant to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

For more information: Rashi Foundation

This article was written in cooperation with The Rashi Foundation