Iskaka Women’s Charitable Society, West Bank
(March 2010 to March 2011)
Our project to support the Iskaka Women’s Charitable Society (IWCS) to address issues surrounding domestic and sexual violence in the West Bank was completed in 2011.
Founded in 1999, the IWCS is a registered non-profit, non-government organisation run by volunteers that aims to serve vulnerable members of the local community, in particular children, women and the elderly. Through 2010-11, we supported IWCS to address issues of domestic and sexual violence in the West Bank.
Learning from our engagement with IWCS
Issues of sexual and domestic violence are sensitive and difficult to address and this project has proven to be no exception. Shame and stigma around this subject is common but the unique circumstances affecting the Palestinian community exacerbated these issues.
In addition, IWCS found some of the selected families identified by the village committees for the project were experiencing family violence from within and needed direct support before group training could begin.
Both Ahlam Harb as the President of IWCS and Muna Assaf the Project Manager and Trainer of the Family Welfare Project built strong and ongoing relationships with communities and brought these selected families and their communities on a path of self-discovery, healing and empowerment.
Equity was a key principle of this activity and reflected in the IWCS’s charter. IWCS engagement with women, men, girls and boys in the three target communities, ensured their activities benefitted a broad spectrum of the community. Different methodologies were applied as required for each target group.
For example, adult and adolescent topics were raised and discussed with different members of the group. For children, puppetry was used to raise topics about violence in the family. For men the topics were discussed in their place of residence when they were available and not at work.
The Family Welfare Project was transparent in that consultation was undertaken with all three village committees and selection committees were established with key stakeholders from the three villages to identify the participants. Project activities and workshops were open to anyone wanting to attend in the target communities in addition to the selected participants.
Working through a local community based organisation such as IWCS provided a solid foundation in the community based on credibility, trust and organisational capacity and reputation. This partnership has reinforced our belief in a community’s ability to determine its own development priorities and approach.
The project has been sustainable for the participants in that the skills and knowledge learnt will continue to benefit them throughout their lives. Project participants have also informally shared their new knowledge with friends and family.
Resources developed from the project in partnership with IWCS will continue to benefit members of the community in the future and could be supported by other organisations or ministries.
The Minister for Social Work has been in discussion with the IWCS about how this project could be extended. The Australian Embassy’s Direct Aid Program was also in discussion with IWCS about additional funding. While this has been a sensitive project, our assistance has contributed to allowing IWCS to build awareness of family welfare and domestic violence issues and take the first steps in addressing this critical social problem.
For more information on this project, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org