“I Earn, Therefore I Exist”

Impoverished Bedouin Mothers Who Become Entrepreneurs

in Israel Studies Review
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The changes among Bedouin in the Negev since the establishment of the State of Israel have had far-reaching implications for Bedouin women and their families. Bedouin women are marginalized, excluded from public life and the labor market. This exacerbates the economic inequality between Arabs and Jews, institutionalized, inter alia, in the 'Arab enclave', which lacks industrialization and is allocated fewer resources. This is a qualitative study among 20 Bedouin women raising large families and living in poverty who participated in SAWA, a microfinance program established by the Koret Foundation in Israel. It examines the process undergone by these women who succeeded in creating employment for themselves and for family members, thus raising their status within the family. Their contribution to the family income also improved their relationship with their husbands and other members of their family.

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