The important thing is to choose a value that is important for you to struggle for, and then make your voice heard
- Samah Salaime
Na'am founder and director, Samah Salaime, is the recipient of the Rappaport Prize for Longstanding Achievement due to her status as a change-maker in Israeli society. The prizes were announced on March 15. Ten years ago, the Bruce and Ruth Rappaport Foundation inaugurated the Rappaport Prize -- and Samah received a Prize in the category of Women Generating Change in Israeli Society.
Samah started Na'am in 2009 after a series of killings of women in central Israel; it was the first of its kind in the area, the first feminist non-profit that strove to support Arab women in Israel's central mixed-cities. However, we can trace Samah's trajectory as a change-maker to long before Na'am existed.
Samah was the founder and manager of the Center for Arab Girls in Ramla, a community center in Lod, as well as a community center in the Issawiya neighborhood of Jerusalem. She received her Bachelor's and Master's degree in Social Work from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where she specialized in gender studies. Samah also graduated from the educational leadership program at the Mandel Institute where she specialized in producing a justly gendered education system.
Here at Na'am, we work to combat violence against women and we strive to support women in social, political, and financial endeavors through the development of our services and programs. We act and react for those women and girls who have been victimized through violence and societal oppression, especially in the Arab sector. Samah -- and everyone at Na'am, is driven by the need to rectify our society's injustices, which means getting involved with issues of equality, tolerance, shared society, peace, and inter-community cooperation.
From the staff at Na'am, we sincerely congratulate Samah for receiving this prize, and we thank her for starting this community of change-makers that is Na'am, a place where women and girls can seek help, guidance, and support. We know this is only the beginning of the struggle for the full rights of Arab women in the many societies they traverse. Especially now, as many around the world are disproportionately impacted by the global pandemic. We know we can't give up, we don't have that privilege. In Samah's own words:
There are those who label me a "social activist." If I have struggled and still am at the heart of the storm, it is not because I have superpowers. I’m just an average woman. I struggle because I decided I care - because I am part of what is happening here today and part of what will be here in the future. I have an obligation to make myself heard, to write my opinion in any language and not to let anyone ignore what I have to say. I don’t have the privilege of giving up or moving on.