MO'EẒET HA-PO'ALOT, the General Council of Women Workers of Israel, founded in 1922 as a part of the *Histadrut (the General Federation of Labor). Its roots go back to the pioneering movement of the Second *Aliyah, when girls, as well as young men, went to build Ereẓ Israel "by the sweat of their brow." Masculine prejudices continued to exist even in an idealistic society. For women to work, especially in the open field, was considered not only unfair competition but a fall from grace. The handful of ḥalutzot (pioneer women) banded together, proclaiming the slogan: "Women demand the right to be partners in the revival of our People and to fulfill themselves … as women and as human beings." In 1968 the membership of Mo'eẓet ha-Po'alot totaled 486,000, composed of three categories: wage-earners – 177,000; women members of cooperative villages (kibbutzim or moshavim) – 33,000; and wives of Histadrut members, known as Immahot Ovedot (working mothers) – 276,000.
Since women are now accepted as full-fledged members of the trade unions, Mo'eẓot ha-Po'alot is preoccupied mainly with social services and the special problems of working women, such as retirement age, maternity benefits, vocational training, and career advancement. Branches of Immahot Ovedot exist in every town and village, providing social services and education for housewives. Assisted by *Pioneer Women organizations in 12 countries, it maintains some 500 social and educational institutions, such as day-nurseries, children's residential homes, kindergartens, youth clubs, and summer camps, catering in 1968 to some 20,000 children. In 2005 Mo'eẓet ha-Po'alot operated 75 day care centers, kindergartens, nurseries, and boarding schools. Special attention is given to children of immigrants and culturally deprived families, who are generally referred to these institutions by social workers. It also supports four residential agricultural high schools (two in cooperation with WIZO, which in 2005 included 1,250 pupils), four workshops for immigrants, several community centers (the largest of which is Bet Elisheva in Jerusalem), girls' vocational high schools (including a school for baby nurses), women's hostels, and special training courses, that in 1968 trained 7,500 women and girls and in 2005 2,850. In scores of women's clubs, immigrants are taught Hebrew, home economics, and social responsibility. In 2005 Mo'eẓet ha-Po'alot offered professional training to 2,400 immigrant women. It operated 35 social and cultural centers for Arab women and 36 community centers. In developing towns, Mo'eẓet ha-Po'alot ran the Education for Family Living project, counseling teenage girls in 50 centers and mothers of large families in 65 training groups. Residential seminars, study days, field trips, and lectures are organized. An advisory bureau on legal and psychological problems assists widows and orphans.
The executive of Mo'eẓet ha-Po'alot is elected by general ballot every four years (simultaneously with the Histadrut elections). Mo'eẓet ha-Po'alot is affiliated with many women's international movements and, through the Histadrut, with the International Labor Office (ILO), participating particularly in committees pertaining to women workers. Among the best-known members of Mo'eẓet ha-Po'alot were Golda *Meir, Raḥel Yanait *Ben-Zvi, and Raḥel Shazar (*Katznelson).
Pioneer Women's Organization, Pioneer Woman (1926– ); A. Maimon (Fishman), Ḥamishim Shenot Tenu'at ha-Po'alot 1904–1954 (19552); R. Katznelson-Shazar, Im Pa'amei ha-Dor, 2 vols. (1963).
[Shoshana Hareli /
Shaked Gilboa (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.