Preparatory program helps military-bound Ethiopian-Israeli girls/ women overcome typical hurdles such as cultural bias to obtain the coveted roles they really want; these ambitious young women spend a year preparing for their service.

By Merav Betito |

A group of girls aged 18-19, who recently graduated from high school, sits in a circle in the living room of a house, looking at a graph projecting on the wall, showing data on the number of working women in Israel.

They’re talking about the numbers and slowly realize the meaning behind them: “It’s best to start academic studies as soon as possible, immediately after the army,” says one of them. “In order to get a high-paying job, it’s best to pursue higher education, and that is hard to do when you have children.”

Dr. Merav Maidan, the group’s facilitator, presents them with more data, which draws them into quite the practical debate.

“A husband must be considerate and help his wife, he is not the only one who should get ahead in life,” says one of the girls. “When I become a manager, I will promote as many women as possible – it’s hard enough as it is for them.”

When they take a break, Maidan explains that this class is part of the curriculum here in the pre-military academy.

Are these revised lessons to what they learned in high school civics class? “We teach them to come and ask the questions not from the point of view of the rulers, the government and the state, but from their own point of view, their difficulties and preferences,” says Dr. Maidan. “We teach them critical thinking, we tell them, ‘don’t accept everything you’re being told, try to figure out where your place is in relation to that, be prepared to encounter the glass ceiling that awaits you, and know that the chance to change your future or your own destiny is in your hands.'”

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