One of the main ways WIZO promotes the status of women in Israeli society is by developing women's leadership via programs that educate women and girls for political, social and community leadership roles. These programs also include special leadership courses for Druze and ultra-Orthodox women.
A New Social Order, WIZO's social leadership program for women created in cooperation with the U.S. Embassy, forges a new group of women executives and leaders who will advance Israeli civil society. In the program, professional women aged 28-60 from all across Israeli society, come together to conceptualize and create social initiatives answering Israel’s pressing needs.
On March 26th, A New Social Order celebrated the completion of the first ever leadership program exclusively for Druze women. The program, which met weekly for four months, brought together an exceptional group of over 40 Druze women of different ages and backgrounds from Isfiya and Dailat el-Carmel.
"The group takes part in activities and debates with the purpose of supporting each woman in the group to achieve their highest potential and empower them at every and any level, Sheli Rapaport, WIZO's Director of Development and Guidance for Gender Equality Programs explained. "The idea behind the program is to take the personal inclination of each and every woman and help them find their tools and strength to make a difference within their community,"
"This Group Change my Life"
Just one of many outcomes of this leadership program is the strong bonds of friendship which grew among the women who participated. Beyond the main purpose of the program, empowering women as leaders and reshaping their lives, this project also built friendships, while giving the participants the skills needed to overcome fears and limitations.
“I did not know I had this force, this power, inside me," H. a 52 year-old participant from Dailat el-Carmel shared. "Because of the program it came out. It erupted!”
“This project has changed my life. It has given me the tools I needed to do something for my community and engage in activism. Now I've gotten involved in politics, in saying what I think and being more active in my community,” said S., another member of the group. “I have so much power in me now. I believe in myself. This is my turn to make a difference!"
“It was a ‘fun-learning’ experience that raised awareness and contributed to our self-confidence in seeing ourselves as amazing and educated women,” H., another participant added. "This experience was brought about by the first WIZO women’s club of Dailat el-Carmel that was developed by some of the participants of the group with a huge drive to promote the fields of social and political activism for the women in the Druze community. These brave women have proven that by coming together and speaking up, women can tip the balance and make a difference in moving towards more effective policy change."
Rada Kamal, Chairperson of WIZO. Dailat el-Carmel, attended the festive closing ceremony which featured a special performance to remember the names of important women from the Arab world that made a difference, including each and every woman in the room. At the end of the ceremony, each of the participants received a certificate from WIZO, marking the recognition of the new female leaders. The ceremony celebrated a program which created both social action and an array of emotions.
“Yes, I can!” is the mantra which epitomizes the essence of empowerment and leadership which was inspired among the women who took part in the program. They repeated this mantra time and again as a symbolic statement that holds so much meaning for those whose voice has been previously silenced or ignored.
"This is just the beginning for those women to make a positive mark in the world and for them to stand out as leaders of their own community," Gila Oshrat, Chairperson of WIZO Israel, who attended the festive closing ceremony, said.
"This program is yet another legacy of WIZO influencing the new era of women that are taking with them an enormous responsibility of awareness and strength. Women who are learning to not be afraid to go into a new era of empowerment and leave the past behind and can confidently declare, “Yes I can!”.
Read more about: Ha’nivcheret (The First Team), WIZO’s first of its kind leadership training program for ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) women here:
Photo Credits: Adi Dror
WIZO intern Luana Homsani contributed to this report.