Fighting for equality
For decades, the Israel Women’s Network has been fighting in the courts, working with political allies and marching on the streets to combat discrimination, pass workplace equality legislation, reduce domestic violence and promote women’s equality and participation in all areas of public life.
Senior staff in the organization have backgrounds in law, politics and media — with a strong focus on legal advocacy. “We work with the decision-makers, the Knesset, the government and within the courts to promote gender equality and make Israel a better place,” says Gera Margaliot. “We have partners in every single party.”
The group has worked to combat gender segregation and restrictions in the IDF, partnered with progressive allies including Standing Together to rally for increased resources to address domestic violence, set up a harassment and discrimination hotline for Arab and Haredi women and won landmark legal cases in support of equal pay.
The Israel Women’s Network has been fighting since 1984, when it was formed by a group of women from opposite sides of the political spectrum.
It’s a fight that many see as core to their vision of Israeli identity, with the Israeli Declaration of Independence standing out as one of the world’s few founding documents to explicitly reference gender equality in calling for “the complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex.”
The network has an approach that, similar to J Street, matches grassroots momentum and sentiment with political savvy and behind-the-scenes work to solidify real policy changes. “When there is a wave, we want to take it and to make it bigger and to make sure that we’ll have an actual influence on reality, on policies,” Gera Margaliot says.
“That’s what we did with the ‘Me Too’ movement,” she says, pointing to the outpouring of anger and revelations across Israeli society which rose in parallel with a renewed focus on harassment and discrimination around the world. “We are making sure that what is coming up from the grass-roots — what’s growing bottom-up — will also make a change in policies and budget priorities.”