Last week, former NIF grantee Israel Women's Network (IWN) held a conference to present a report on the lack of gender-equality legislation in the outgoing Knesset. The conference participants included the three principle prime ministerial candidates – Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni (Kadima), Defense Minister Ehud Barak (Labor) and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud).
"This report is our way of leading social change," said IWN Executive Director Nurit Tzur. "A vision of equality must be translated into action, legislation, the allocation of appropriate budgets and the appointment of women to public positions."
The IWN report showed that only 27 of the 223 laws initiated by private members or lobbying groups in the 17th Knesset addressed gender issues.
"Considering the amount of gender discrimination in Israel," said IWN Spokesperson Yael Edelist, “this number is not nearly enough."
One of the election ads that Jerusalem buses refused to display because it contained images of women.
The three party leaders promised to improve the situation in the coming Knesset.
However, with the very real possibility that Israel will elect a woman prime minister for the first time since Golda Meir more than 35 years ago, much of the talk revolved around the de-legitimization of Livni as a prime ministerial candidate because she is a woman.
Concern was voiced at the conference that, despite the recent success of NIF grantee Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) for Progressive Judaism (Reform) prior to last November's municipal elections ordering the Egged bus company in Jerusalem to display posters of women candidates, some extreme elements are defying the court by defacing posters of Livni.