JERUSALEM - THE WOMEN'S HUB

Introduction

MiniActive was founded in 2012 to empower women and teenage girls in East Jerusalem, by helping them to advocate for their own communities. The project supports women leading projects that improve local infrastructure and services, starting while they are in high school. Women collaborate with each other as well as municipal authorities to achieve their goals, which not only improves quality of life in East Jerusalem, but also challenges patriarchal views held by the community, and teaches them transferable professional skills.
East Jerusalem is not well maintained by the state. Streets are covered in litter and potholes; public stairs and walkways are often unsafe to use, and few schools or community buildings are wheelchair accessible. Arab populations are typically unwilling to interact with the ‘enemy’ Israeli state; for those willing, language and cultural barriers make the process very difficult. The stark divide in socio-economic conditions between East and West Jerusalem only serves to increase tensions and the likelihood of terror attacks. Women are particularly vulnerable in East Jerusalem, as traditional patriarchal values resign them to the domestic sphere and limit their agency.
MiniActive is a grassroots organisation, which began when local East Jerusalemite women demanded the repair of street lamps in their neighbourhood, which the municipal authorities had been ignoring. Today, they operate in much the same way. Local women determine their priorities themselves – making them stakeholders in their own futures. They strategise in small groups of 4-6, before going to local agencies and municipal authorities to press the issue, and make sure it is addressed in no more than 2-3 weeks. MiniActive currently has 1,000 volunteers throughout East Jerusalem and files 700 complaints to the municipality per month.
Since its foundation, MiniActive has solved thousands of practical problems affecting everyday living in East Jerusalem, including the repair of street lights, improvement of garbage collection, fixing of potholes, replacement of safety fences, and implementation of school events. Through these, MiniActive has improved the lives of tens of thousands of people, and added tens of millions of Shekels to the East Jerusalem annual sanitation budget.
In 2019 alone, MiniActive supported 200 people to learn Hebrew; drew 400 families to attend its events; recruited 100 new volunteers, and raised a months’ worth of food for over 60 families during its Ramadan food drive. 100 girls and 30 boys from age 10-18 participated in ‘MiniActive Youth’, a programme designed to instill leadership skills in girls from a young age, and widen their opportunities as they enter adulthood.
Going forward, MiniActive seeks to not only increase the number of complaints to the municipal hotline, but to also increase their completion rates. They aim to continue developing courses and partnerships that enable volunteers to increase their earning potential, while remaining a safe space for dialogue between East Jerusalemites and the Israeli State.

Aims

  1. Create empowerment and hope among Arab women and girls in East Jerusalem through practical, incremental projects that improve their immediate surroundings.
  2. Create sustainable grassroots advocacy/empowerment mechanisms to advance human rights.
  3. Start empowering women while they are still in high school through MiniActive Youth, enabling them to gain important leadership skills and increase self confidence in their ability to effect change in the future.

Specific Objectives

  1. Engage 1,200 volunteers in the project, including 15 regional coordinators.
  2. Maintain the municipal complaints completion rate at that of 2019 (60% increase from 2018), and hopefully increase it further.
  3. Continue to support women’s activism in East Jerusalem, by covering the costs of advertising, materials such as flyers, and equipment.
  4. Hold Hebrew classes for at least 300 volunteers.
  5. Host courses to improve health and safety, including first aid, fire safety, and healthy living.
  6. Launch enrichment activities to build a sense of community, such as fabric art, cooking and exercise classes, food drives, and trips to different parts of Israel 3-4 times a year.
  7. Integrate more young women into MiniActive Youth. This year, the programme will concentrate on project planning with a local landscape architect, to transform neglected areas through art and recycling.