Gendered Care and Non-compensation

There is a wide literature focusing on gendered care and labour in the workplace, the roles that women fill (and are stereotypically expected to fill), and the ways this maintains their exclusion and male dominance (Budlender 2010; Chopra and Sweetman 2014). It is not surprising that this occurs within Palestine and Israel, including in grassroots peace organizing. However, the literature looking at grassroots peace movements, particularly in Palestine and Israel, largely ignores this, failing to explore inequitable patterns and practices with regard to women’s work and responsibilities in the organization, also failing to address the intersectional challenges that arise.

Women's Challenges around Work and Childcare

In both Israeli and Palestinian societies, as in much of the rest of the world, the burden of childcare falls disproportionately on women. As researchers have noted in various corporate and other workplace contexts (Taneja et al. 2012; Amaram 2019), women seeking to balance professional and personal responsibilities around childcare face unique barriers in professional advancement. This extends to work in the nonprofit sector, as Chopra and Sweetman (2014) have noted, “Care work also constrains women’s ability to participate on equal terms with men in development interventions supported by international and national nongovernment organizations.” Similar to other contexts, in grassroots peace movements, constraints on women due to care work is relegated to the private sphere and beyond the concern of the organizations seeking to recruit women. However, this is an organizational issue as workfamily practices can be intentionally adapted to address or overlook women’s needs and obligations (Allen and Martin 2017). Peace organizations regularly recruit participants or select staff or organizational members as group leaders or facilitators in projects extending for a full

The Logic of Intersectional Marginalization 103 day, a weekend, or a few days inside or outside of the country. This is particularly ironic in that peace organizations often believe in and engage in work surrounding women’s equality and empowerment, however without always accommodating their needs surrounding childcare.

Our research points to the ways both Palestinian and Israeli women with young children (and grandmothers who take care of grandchildren) often faced the most challenges when committing to participate, perform staff-related tasks, or fill semi-volunteer positions as group leaders or facilitators. While most organizations we researched did not actively accommodate this demographic, notably, a few of the organizations attempted to by intermittently providing babysitters for staff when they had work-family conflicts, by allowing female participants to bring a babysitter and children to meetings, and the most generous, by providing programs with babysitters so mothers with young children could take a (often unpaid) leadership role in meetings or obtain training.

Reflecting on inner work dynamics in one organization, Chaim noted that having children influenced the roles and opportunities allocated to staff, which specifically influenced women. He said, “You might not have the same opportunities available to you because there would be assumptions,” for example, assuming that a woman should (or would rather) “stay home and take care of their kids.” In some cases, he noted women were told, “‘You need to think about your family,’ or ‘Are you sure you can do this project because you are going to start having babies soon?’” A few Palestinian women echoed this due to their extensive experience in a few different organizations, and Nora, a Palestinian project coordinator, noted the ways pregnancy inhibited her ability to work, not due to health reasons or a lack of desire to participate, but because her workplace explicitly limited the types of positions and opportunities she could have had.

When discussing the way organizations recruit group leaders and facilitators from among organizational members, Ortal, an Israeli female project manager with long-term experience in the field, noted that there was not a gendered pattern to who they chose, although she qualified, “some of them are [facilitating] more than others. It depends on how available they are.” This issue - availability - turned out to be key, as several other figures in the organization noted the gendered nature of availability, and the fact that nearly half of the facilitators, who happened to be women, tended to have specific constraints around their time due to childcare.

Studies in other contexts have noted that geographical distance between mothers and mothers-in-laws is correlated to a woman’s attachment to the labour force, as she can rely on family for childcare (Compton and Pollak 2014), and we have observed similar dynamics in our contexts. If Palestinian women with young children would attend a peace organization's meeting, in the event the organization did notprovide childcare, they would often leave their children with family members, as Palestinian families, particularly in the occupied Palestinian territories, live in closer proximity to family than Israelis. Israeli women, in the event they could not make arrangements for their children, would often hire a babysitter, and if these mothers would come out of their ideological commitment to the organization and its vision, they knew that they would ultimately receive less money as part of their earnings would go to childcare.

Liat noted the challenges around times of meetings, where after a full day of work, staff go out to eat and continue to discuss important issues regarding who should be invited to sit on the organization’s board, brainstorm about important topics and come to consensus on it prior to raising it during office hours, or decide which staff member should be sent abroad to lead a binational peacebuilding meeting. Women, “if they choose motherhood, [are] excluded from that,” she said. Hind expressed something similar, “What bothered me is that after every meeting, when there is an evaluation, men meet at night or go to a restaurant, [...] and of course I can’t go. I’m single and from a very conservative family and village, but they [male co-workers] never really pay attention.” While most of these anecdotes address challenges around childcare, particularly in this last reference, it is, more generally, challenges due to family obligations, and a lack of consideration for how issues affect Palestinian women.

 
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