Members of the Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality, headed by Aida Touma-Sliman (Joint List), visited the local Druze council of Beit Jann on Sunday and held a meeting with the council chairman, female council employees, leading women in the community and representatives of NGOs that operate there. Later, the committee members toured a local textile factory and met with its female workers.

The meetings centered on issues related to the employment of women, obstacles women face in joining the workforce and the difficulties working women face. Local women complained that the training provided by the Ministry of Economy and Industry was not enough when there is a lack of infrastructure and transportation, and mainly a shortage of workplaces. For example, the locals said, the bus services into the community do not run late enough, while the shopping mall in Carmiel, which can provide many jobs, is open late.

Committee on the Status of Women visits Beit Jann; Chairwoman Touma-Sliman to locals: ”You can turn to us for help in any area of your lives”

(Photo: Knesset`s Media and Public Relations Division)

Another issue that was raised, as an internal problem in Druze society, is the claim by religious leaders that women are not permitted to drive. Some of the women talked about the lack of belief in their ability to find work, both on the part of the women themselves and on the part of their husbands, while others spoke of the need to educate for more equal distribution of household chores, as today women return from work and begin a ”second shift” at home.

Another problem is the shortage of home daycare centers, as well as their operating hours, which do not allow women to work full time. Currently there are no regular daycare centers in the village, and the probability that some will be built is small due to the shortage of land.

Committee Chairwoman Touma-Sliman was told that the local employment bureau was transferred to Carmiel, so many of the village`s women refrain from registering there because the cost of the trip cancels out the unemployment they receive. Therefore, the unemployment statistics do not reflect the actual situation on the ground.

Touma-Sliman asked the local council`s chairman and the council`s women employees for accurate data so that she could work with the Ministry of Economy and the Transport Ministry to improve the situation. ”I view the committee as being responsible for all issues that are important to women, including education, welfare and employment, and I hope that you will see me as someone you can turn to for help in any area of life,” she said.