The Clinical Legal Education Center at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, WAC-MAAN and The WAC-MAAN nursery staff group sent letters to the Labor and Welfare Minister Haim Katz, and
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat
June 19th, Rania Saleh from the WAC office in East Jerusalem and 3 kindergarten teachers at the Knesset Committee to Advance the Status of Women
On June 19, the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women discussed the lack of childcare facilities for toddlers. One day earlier, the Hebrew University’s Clinical Legal Education Center (CLEC) and WAC-MAAN had called on Labor and Welfare Minister Haim Katz and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat to dedicate a significant portion of the city’s budget to day-care centers for children aged 0-4 years in East Jerusalem. The Knesset Committee discussion came after the minister announced that 150 new nurseries would be opened in time for the coming school year.
The CLEC and WAC‘s call was part of ongoing efforts to reduce the serious rates of unemployment among women in East Jerusalem, where there are some 30,000 children of 0-4 years, but only 31 publicly funded nurseries. Only about 15% of women in the eastern half of the city participate in the workforce, and the lack of childcare facilities is a major hurdle for those women who wish to work. Removing this hurdle would enable many more to find jobs.
An increasing number of women in East Jerusalem seek work as a way out of poverty. Some of these are members of WAC’s nursery staff group, which organizes women who have been trained and certified by the state to work in childcare. However, there are not enough workplaces for them. Directing part of the budget towards nurseries in East Jerusalem would enable many women to find work as well as improving the welfare of the children in these neighborhoods.
“The lack of childcare facilities means women simply can’t work,” says Atty. Dana Ginosar at the Clinic for Women’s Labor Rights. “Women speak about their attempts to find a solution, but these solutions are temporary, which means they can’t find permanent jobs. The Employment Bureau doesn’t acknowledge the problem. When a women is compelled to turn down a job because she has no childcare, or when she takes a child to work and is fired, the Bureau marks her down as refusing work and withholds her unemployment benefits. The budget for childcare subsidy in the Arab sector doesn’t reach East Jerusalem. The current situation is blatant discrimination and seriously undermines women’s right to equal opportunity of employment, children’s right to equal educational opportunity, and families’ right to live in dignity. We are demanding that a significant part of the childcare budget be directed towards East Jerusalem, and that the state support the expansion of childcare facilities, at least to the level of West Jerusalem.”
“For many years, WAC-MAAN has assisted women seeking work in East Jerusalem,” says Erez Wagner, director of WAC’s East Jerusalem branch. “This half of the city suffers extreme poverty, affecting some 80% of the residents. Sadly, the barriers preventing East Jerusalem women from getting work are high, leaving most of them unemployed. One of these barriers is the lack of childcare facilities, and removing this barrier would be a welcome and significant change.”
“In the Knesset Committee I heard that a budget had been put aside for childcare facilities in East Jerusalem but it wasn’t approved,” says Doa Abu Maadi from the WAC-MAAN nursery staff group. “I don’t know what they did with it, perhaps it’s stuck in the town hall offices. Let us work in nurseries and enable other women to work!”
Atty. Dana Ginosar, the Clinic for Women’s Labor Rights: 052-8745886
Erez Wagner, director of WAC-Maan’s East Jerusalem branch: 050-7596492
For additional information about women’s employment in East Jerusalem, read the recent WAC-Maan report: “Sentenced to unemployment: East Jerusalem women in the struggle for work,” available here.
For additional contact: Roni Ben Efrat 0504-330-038[:]