Women’s Empowerment at the Matnas

Last week we spoke to Laila, a local resident from Lod and a participant in the Arab-Jewish women’s empowerment groups at the Matnas Chicago Community Center. Here, Laila speaks about her past and discusses the importance of women’s empowerment for local women and girls in Ramat Eshkol and other peripheral cities in Lod. 

Go ahead and introduce yourself and me about where you’re from.

“I am Laila and I’m from Jordan. I am 39 years old. When I first came to Israel I lived in Ramle, but now I live in Lod.”

What part of Jordan are you originally from?

“I am originally from Zarqa.”

“Why did you decide to start coming to the Community Center and how did you learn about it?”

“At first I didn’t know about the Matnas activities. But eventually I heard about the various projects that the Matnas does and became very interested in the women’s empowerment groups that they supported. I thought that joining would be a good opportunity for me to do something bigger with my life. After work I always just went home and didn’t do much, but I realized that I wanted time for myself. So I came to the women’s group once, then again, and then I got into a routine of attending meetings weekly.

“You’re part of the women’s group here. Why do you think it is important for the Community Center to address women’s issues?”

When I first came to Lod I realized that the women here always stay at home. They weren’t active in anything outside of raising their children or being a wife. But the organizations here also didn’t give women any space or opportunities to pursue extracurricular activities. Women were minorities who had to give everything they had to their families and that was their only job. But when I joined the Matnas I started engaging with many different people, doing different cooking and photography projects, and I learned so much from so many incredibly people. I became far more open to Lod’s society.”

“So you definitely feel like the Matnas has created a lot of good change for the community?”

Yes. For myself and for other women they really have created incredible change for us.

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