MK Merav Michaeli
March 8 is International Women’s Day. As a feminist member of Knesset, who began my activist career 18 years ago working for the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel, an NIF grantee, I want to celebrate this day with you, my friends and partners outside Israel.
As you may know, last week, I was part of a team of Knesset members who submitted a bill that would enable women to become director-general of the rabbinic courts. I’m proud to say that the bill passed an initial reading, and just received the support of a key ministerial committee. In speaking about the bill in the Knesset, I explained that the days when women are forbidden to enter places simply because they are women are long gone. These days, women play an active and visible role shaping and interpreting the world we live in. Today, I’m proud to be one of 27 women in the Knesset, the largest representation of women in the Israeli government thus far, working to make equality and social justice more possible for everyone.
For the past 100 years, since women were granted the right to vote and run for electoral office in the United States and in other western nations, we’ve made enormous strides. We fought and earned the right to own property, the right to education, the right to the integrity and autonomy of our bodies, the right to represent and be represented, and much more.
Yet, many challenges remain. For example, the economy in Israel still does not sufficiently recognize and reward women’s housework and child-rearing; the security apparatus in Israel is narrowly defined and often fails to recognize the needs of women living through political conflict; there are still daunting wage gaps between women and men in the workforce; a disproportionate number of women are victims of sexual assault and violence; and women continue to be under-represented in most institutions; worldwide, women hold only 1% of wealth.
On this International Women’s Day, I invite you to join me in rethinking our economy, laws, and governing institutions, so that—together–we can create a world that is truly equitable and inclusive. A world that listens to women’s voices would be a world in which there is zero tolerance for rape and sexual violence; a world in which sexuality is personal choice and not a commodity; a world that helps and supports young girls and boys and the families that raise them. On this International Women’s Day, I invite you to join me in reimagining our world, so that it can become a just and equitable place for all of us and for those who will come after us.
I’ve had many opportunities to collaborate with the New Israel Fund, and to witness closely the profound impact it has in Israel. NIF’s support for women’s organizations is critical for our ability to create a truly just, equitable, and inclusive society. Thank you very much for all that you have done over the past 35 years, and all that you continue to do. I look forward to working — together — towards a just, peaceful, and democratic Israel.
MK Merav Michaeli