Women of Valor Taking Control of Their Futures
Though Israel has long welcomed new immigrants from around the world, it’s not easy to adapt to a new culture and a new language. It can be difficult and overwhelming to understand Israel’s work environment and find a job. Women from immigrant families are often busy ensuring that their children are integrating well — and sometimes, their own progress is all but forgotten. JDC-TEVET’s Eshet Chayil is one of the most trusted and established programs in Israel to help these disenfranchised immigrant women find work and join Israeli society while still supporting their families.
Eshet Chayil was launched in 1994 to help Ethiopian-Israeli women integrate into Israel through employment. These immigrants were largely from agricultural backgrounds — adapting their skills to a modern workplace was no easy task. The 3-year program provided basic soft skills training and helped place them in appropriate jobs. The women participated in personal and group counseling along with community outreach. Program staff coached these women through their entry to the workplace and well into their first years on the job.
The program was a dramatic success and played a pivotal role in helping Ethiopian-Israeli women make a new home in Israel. With this momentum, JDC-TEVET expanded Eshet Chayil for immigrant women from the Caucauses and Uzbekistan, as well as Arab women in 2006 (for whom Eshet Chayil was renamed Rihadiya). The scope of Eshet Chayil became widescreen.
The statistics speak for themselves: rates of employment after the first year of Eshet Chayil are high (73% for Ethiopian-Israeli women and 69% for Arab-Israeli women, for example), and nearly 95% of participants remained employed six months after starting their first post-Eshet Chayil positions.
In 2010, Israel’s Ministry of Social Affairs and Services agreed to absorb the program and ensure its stability and further expansion. What was, two decades ago, a bold program to help Ethiopian-Israeli women step out of a traditional society and into Israel is now an initiative helping marginalized immigrant women of all backgrounds. And now run by the government, it’ll be around for many years to come.