Nashim LeGufan recognized a real void in knowledge, services and youth programming that target and are specifically tailored to young women/adolescent girls at-risk. In response, a unique and comprehensive program was designed that will both build a national knowledge base that is lacking today in Israel, and engage adolescent girls at-risk in Knowledge and Action groups that tackle their needs and realities, addressing issues of body image, health and reproductive rights, healthy relations and development and more.
The project is comprised of three major components:
- Knowledge and Action groups for a wide spectrum of adolescent girls at-risk, comprised of youth from low socio-economic backgrounds, Russian and Ethiopian immigrants, Arab and Bedouin, secular and religious (inc. Orthodox) Jewish adolescent girls, ages 13-18. This component works to acquaint adolescent girls with vital health, anatomy, sexuality and reproductive issues. Further, the youth receive social action training and guidance in initiating communal projects with wider scope and reach, choosing a topic of relevance to the youth and leading creative initiatives related to it.
- The first-ever national survey, to be conducted by WTB and experts, based on both qualitative and quantitative methods, and include four major methodological components – personal interviews of 80 adolescent girls, nationwide, dissemination and analysis of surveys by 500 adolescent girls, collection, research and analysis of forum-based and online inputs from hundreds of adolescent girls in Israel, and 10 focus group sessions of a total of 200 adolescent girls. The survey will represent the diversity of Israeli society – religious and secular Jewish girls, Arab, Ethiopian, Russian-speaking, in schools and in special at-risk institutes, from a wide socio-economic and geographical spectrum, and cover all major issues and needs from the youth perspective.
- Building a professional knowledge base and developing materials on youth at-risk and adolescent girls at-risk in Israel. This component includes the development of materials in Hebrew, Arabic and Russian and training professionals from health, psychology, youth, community and social work fields that work with youth at-risk on an ongoing basis. The project will develop practical information with emphasis on best practices and operational recommendations for staff.
Why this project is important
Youth comprise 17% of Israel’s population reaching 750,000 ages 12-18. A growing segment of Israel’s youth are considered at-risk, with over 25% living under the poverty line, impacted by “especially poor health” conditions and other worrisome patterns that affect young women and girls in specific ways. Adolescent girls, ages 12-17, demonstrate attributes and patterns of behavior clearly unique to them. Israel holds the highest rates of eating disorders in the world with 6-8% of girls and young women under the age of 25 suffering from anorexia and bulimia. Each year about 32 out of 1,000 young women in Israel under the age of 19 get pregnant, and 1 out of 3 of them terminates the pregnancy. This is not surprising considering that 70% of sexually active adolescent girls in Israel do not practice safe sex. Youth in Israel’s socio-economic, geographic and ethnic periphery are at higher risk rates and more vulnerable on all counts, as well as most lacking in in/formal educational and health services tailored to their needs. There is a real void in knowledge, services, programs and action-based experience in the health, medical and educational fields when it comes to young women and adolescent girls, and those at-risk in particular. In addition to the fact that there has never been a national survey on youth in Israel, another clear indication is the increasing numbers of medical, health, social work and community professionals turning to WTB requesting training and information tailored to work with youth at-risk, in search of best practices and effective approaches.
What will the project achieve:
The comprehensive project will: 1. Create an in-depth and practical knowledge base on the unique needs, perceptions and behavioral patterns of adolescent girls in Israel today that will serve to introduce effective programs and work with youth at-risk; 2. Create opportunities for action by and for youth at-risk (girls) voicing their experiences on key issues of self-esteem, body image, eating disorders, sexual and reproductive health, and violence within relationships. By doing so, the project will impact the lives of hundreds of at-risk adolescent girls in Israel, transitioning the youth from invisible members into empowered agents of change affecting their peers, professionals, families and local communities. In addition, the project will serve as a vital source of information and resources for professionals and practitioners to become better equipped to work with youth at-risk in general, and adolescent girls at-risk, in particular.