20 December 2012
Photo Credit: Noam Revkin Fenton (SHATIL)
The SHATIL-led Coalition against the Exclusion of Women launched a public campaign against the troubling phenomenon of gender exclusion in the public sphere.
"An End to the Exclusion of Women under Government's Auspices," is a new media campaign aimed at encouraging the Israeli public to express their views to the government, Knesset members, and to political candidates in the current election cycle.
What started with ultra-Orthodox pressure to enforce gender-segregated buses has spread to many realms of public life including healthcare, government functions, conferences, grocery checkout lanes and even sidewalks.
In response, SHATIL organized a coalition of more than 20 women's and Jewish pluralism organizations (many of them NIF grantees), including WIZO, Women of the Wall, Be Free Israel, and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.
"We are demanding that each of the parties running in the upcoming elections denounce the policy of excluding women and take steps to stop this phenomenon here and now," said Coalition coordinator, Tammy Katsabian.
The Coalition is demanding that party platforms commit to: stopping government funding to public bodies that exclude or discriminate against women; preventing municipalities from holding events in which women are excluded; acting to ensure that each government ministry publish official notices forbidding such exclusion; and more.
The campaign's Facebook page enables supporters to send letters to Knesset members and candidates asking them to adopt the Coalition's recommendations and to insert them into their party platforms.
"There are many laws on the books preventing discrimination against women and many court rulings against the exclusion of women that are not being enforced," said Katsabian. "We are calling for the enforcement of these laws."
The Coalition's detailed report, submitted to political parties and Knesset factions, outlines incidents of exclusion of and discrimination against women on public busses and in the media; separation and/or exclusion of women under the auspices of government bodies, funeral homes, local authorities, and in private businesses. The report points out that this is a relatively new phenomenon in Israel and has been growing since the late 1990's, spilling over from ultra-Orthodox circles to general society, and that it deviates even from accepted halachic practices.
In addition to the campaign, the Coalition continues to intensively lobby government officials and political party representatives.