by Fran Levey, NCJW National Commissioner
I have been a member of NCJW for a long time, and I have had the privilege to serve on NCJW’s Israel Granting Committee and to participate in an NCJW Mission to Israel. I have seen firsthand how our work in Israel mirrors our work domestically. During the next several months, I will be sharing profiles of our grantees in Israel, relating their work to our domestic agenda so you can share in our excitement in the difference these organizations are making for women in Israel.
NCJW works to promote the empowerment of women here in the US and in Israel. NCJW activists in Florida, with support from our Washington office, are mobilizing Jewish women across the state to educate their communities against frightening ballot initiatives that threaten religious liberty and women’s access to health care. And in Israel, an NCJW grant is helping Itach-Maaki — Women Lawyers for Social Justice, who in partnership with WIPS — Women in the Public Sphere, is working to support the campaign to implement the Israeli Amendment 4 of the Equality of Women’s Rights Law. This progressive piece of legislation was inspired by U.N. Resolution #1325 that mandates representation of women from diverse populations in all realms of conflict-resolution and general policy-making on a national level.
Even with such progressive legislation having been passed in 2005, Israeli women have been excluded from national policymaking in Israel, especially in matters of security and foreign policy. This law was not enforced by the relevant bodies and was not considered a priority by the government over the years.
As a result of Itach-Maaki’s work on the implementation and enforcement of the law with six petitions to the Israeli High Court of Justice, the State of Israel now recognizes that legal action taken against the government on this gender-related issue, most likely, will be heard and answered by the Supreme Court of Israel. (In November, we hope the hard work of NCJW women across the U.S., educating the public about several harmful ballot initiatives will meet with success as well.)
Still, the crucial issues of defense and security are seen as “male” issues, and women’s and/or gender perspectives have not been adequately integrated into policymaking in this central field, impacting all realms of Israeli society. Although women were appointed to security-related government committees as a result of the decisions of the Israeli High Court, there is still no government plan for gender mainstreaming, especially on security and peace process issues. Itach-Maaki, along with several other women’s organizations, plans to present a National Action Plan to the Israeli government soon, based on the national action plans of 33 other countries, including the United States, as a culmination of the work being done to mainstream women and women’s issues in their national policy decision-making.
To learn more about the recipient organizations of NCJW’s Israel Granting Program, click here.
Fran Levey is the Immediate Past President of the Greater Miami Section (2009-2011) and now serves as an NCJW National Commissioner. She served for three years on the NCJW Israel Granting Committee and professionally assists philanthropists with their giving in Israel. Fran has a close identification with and love for Israel, having lived and travelled there as often as possible.