A Sea Change in the Desert
Did you know only five percent of Bedouin women have an academic education? An ambitious young woman, trained by Intel, is helping change that by shaping new futures through technology. (Source: Inter Agency Task Force on Israeli Arab Issues)
A sea change in the desert: Bedouin women discovering the digital future
Naema Al-zbede lives in the Negev desert in Arara, a village that ranks among the lowest on Israel’s socioeconomic scale. She is one of 16 siblings in a family with just one income provider—her 70-year-old father. In traditional Bedouin families such as hers, Naema says, “Women do not go out to study or work. By the age of 18, most girls are married. My mother has never worked outside except the occasional cleaning job.”
Naema sought wider opportunities for herself and other girls in Arara. “I did not want to sit waiting forever until my prince arrived,” she says. Instead, in 2009, she began volunteering in her community, and she received training in how to teach children to use technology tools and develop life skills through the Intel® Learn Program.
Over the next two years, she volunteered an extraordinary 3,200 hours as a technology ambassador for nonprofit Appleseeds Academy, helping lead Intel Learn sessions for children in the morning, and teaching technology skills to local women in the afternoons.
Appleseeds Academy trains and prepares young volunteers as part of civil service that they do. These volunteers act as technological ambassadors in local elementary schools and community centers in various locations throughout Israel. She recruited numerous other girls to become technology volunteers, and tirelessly promoted the use of technology as a tool for removing barriers. Many young people in the area have continued their studies because Naema—by example and through teaching—helped them see how education and technology could change their futures. One of her students—previously uninterested in school—used his technology skills to invent a USB device to lock and unlock a door remotely.
Naema is now completing a bachelor’s degree and, armed with technology skills, has landed a job with the local income tax authority. She has become a well-known advocate for girls and women in Arara and beyond—including serving as a representative at a forum of Bedouin women convened by Israel’s president and sharing her knowledge with Israeli Deputy Minister Gila Gamliel, a well-known women’s rights activist.
Intel® Learn Program
Naema credits Intel Learn for giving her the tools she needed to begin transforming lives.
“I know that I have managed to make a difference,” she says. “Even though the full extent of the change will only be obvious a few years down the line, it is already apparent.”
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