Major Conference on Gynecology Excludes Women

19 December 2013

‘A Conference on Fertility and Gynecology without
a Single Woman?!?’

NIF is at the forefront of a campaign against a conference on innovations in gynecology, which will exclude women speakers. The Puah Institute, which helps couples with fertility, medicine, and Jewish law, held its 13th national conference in Jerusalem this week, with the theme “Innovations in Gynecology and Halachah: Judgments, Dilemmas and Challenges.” In previous years, female experts were barred from speaking at the annual conference, leading many doctors to cancel their participation in protest. This year, the Puah Institute refused to reveal the list of speakers, presumably in an attempt to stave off criticism regarding its exclusion of women.

A conference without women goes against Israeli Medical Association (IMA) guidelines. According to its ethics committee, “Women’s exclusion is an unacceptable phenomenon which stands against the values of equality and democracy…The doctor won’t participate in any medical or scientific event from which women are excluded, whether as patients or doctors.”

SHATIL’s Coalition against the Exclusion of Women launched a letter-writing campaign to ensure that women experts will participate in the conference. NIF grantees in the coalition include Kolech, Hiddush, the Reform Center for Religion and State, Mavoi Satum, Be Free Israel, and Women of the Wall.

Part of the letter reads: “Unacceptably, at a conference which mainly deals with women’s problems and dilemmas, and on women’s sexuality and intimacy, only male experts are being given the authority to discuss the issues, while women, whose competencies and contributions to research and medical treatment in the realm of fertility is recognized in Israel and around the world, will be completely absent from discussion on the topic.”

The letter was sent to the Puah Institute and to key figures in the Ministry of Health and the IMA. NIF supporters from around the globe also wrote in to the IMA in support of this effort.