Israel: Women and Their Bodies
Women and Their Bodies published a Hebrew adaptation of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” in 2011. The goal was to "create a clear readable book, each woman's bible; a book that can be found at each home and library, which contains answers to the questions which we are afraid to ask out loud, or to which we do not know where to find the answers". Simultaneously, the organization developed an Arabic resource in partnership with a group of Palestinian women living in Israel and other Arab women in the region. The Hebrew and Arabic adaptations are the first of their kind in research, scope, knowledge and stories in the Middle East. Read more about the Arabic resource and The Counseling Forum for the Arabic Book.
The Hebrew resource is adapted to the unique needs of Jewish women and girls living in Israel, with related narratives, images and content. For example, it places emphasis on issues related to infertility and treatment, which is very common in Israel and fully paid by the government. At least 20% of Israeli women undergo fertility treatment, with little or no information on its effects. It also discusses the political, ethical and health effects of state mandated military service by all Israeli citizens, including young women between the ages of 18 and 20. By boldly addressing issues taboo in Jewish society, the book encourages women to experience their bodies in positive ways. It also reframes cultural vocabulary and negative constructions of – for example – older women by replacing commonly used words that translate as the "age of wilting or loss" to terms that honor midlife.
The OBOS Global Initiative has provided extensive support on this project, most notably with project start-up and envisioning, as well as fundraising and promotion. Post publication, OBOS continues to help increase access to this resource by posting excerpts on the OBOS website; and the book is available, for free, in both Hebrew and English, on the website of Women and Their Bodies.
Women and Their Bodies (WTB) seeks to change grassroots and institutional perceptions and attitudes towards women's health, sexuality and reproductive needs. It is the only organization in Israel with an integrated approach to women's health, using an awareness-and-prevention driven model rather than a disease or service-based agenda.
WTB’s outreach relies on a dedicated base of more than 350 volunteers from all professions and walks of life in Israel. The organization’s activities include increasing access to the Hebrew and Arabicadaptations of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” to stakeholders from the medical, social work, educational and health fields, as well as thousands of women nationwide; and using the resources, along with other materials developed by the organization, in community workshops on issues related to health, reproductive needs and rights, anatomy, body image and sexual development. The workshops, for which WTB is widely known and respected, are conducted in several languages, by trained instructors, and culturally-tailored to the needs of specific populations – Ethiopian and Russian immigrants, Bedouin women, and the Arab minority within Israel.
WTB also advocates for – and builds leadership in – women’s health rights activism. For example, they are the only organization to write chapters on women's health for the Israel Women’s Network Data Book, which tracks the status of Israeli women and girls every 2 years. And the project coordinator is one of two young people (out of 300) to win the 2007Social Entrepreneur Fellowship competition, a joint initiative of the Israel Venture Network and the New Israel Fund to promote young leadership in Israel.
The organization also manages a tri-lingual health information website, which carries content from the Hebrew and Arabic adaptations for a growing audience, many of which prefer to seek information anonymously online.
More on this courageous collaboration can be found in a 10.18.11 article from The Forward. You can also find out more in our 9.7.11 blog entry and in our spring 2009 newsletter, as well as from these articles in Israel Non Profit News and Haaretz.
The project coordinator is one of two young people (out of 300) to win the 2007 Social Entrepreneur Fellowship competition, a joint initiative of the Israel Venture Network and the New Israel Fund to promote young leadership in Israel. Read the press release.
Looking for a Copy?
The Women and Their Bodies website features extensive excerpts from Nashim LeGufan in Hebrew and English and excerpts from Al Mara wa Kayanaha in Arabic. Print copies of the Hebrew edition are available for $40.00 with a shipping fee of $20.00. Print copies of the Arabic edition are not yet available for sale outside of Israel. For information, please contact Women and Their Bodies.
If you would like more information about this project and explore ways you might get involved, please contact the OBOS Global Initiative staff.
For more information on Women and Their Bodies:
Contact Person: Dana Weinberg / Tal Weintraub
Address: 34 Kfar Etzion St. Jerusalem