Israel is a progressive country in terms of women’s rights, especially compared to its Middle Eastern neighbors. In the secular community, women are often treated as equals, and honored as such. Yet being born into a female body confronts half the population with its challenges, and the need to work harder to achieve. Luckily, women are tending towards the spotlight, and have achieved groundbreaking shifts within the fields of science, sports, policy, inclusion and more.
Some examples include Ada Yonath, now 80 years old, who was the first Israeli woman to win the Nobel Prize in 2009 for developing a molecule which advanced antibiotic development. Yonath has likely inspired younger generations to dive into science and academia.
For the Arab Israeli world, women, like Talleen Abu Hanna, a model and media personality is the first transgender Palestinian woman to win a transgender beauty pageant. Sabrina Saadi is the first uniformed Arab Israeli police officer, with dreams to work her way up to chief. Sanaa Mahameed is the first Arab Israeli volunteer for the United Hatzalah emergency services. Each of these women face big challenges as they are the ones breaking the mold, and emerging as role models in the Arab Israeli world, and are modern examples of the bridges built in Israel.
Other women who are supporting the skyrocketing include sportswoman Pascale Berkovitch, who was the first Paralympic rower to compete in the 2018 Beijing Olympics and hopes to make it to Tokyo 2020. Another sports star is Vital Zinger, a multi-award-winning dancer who has competed in the Paralympics and other global competitions, and who strongly advocates the inclusion and integration for people with disabilities. Another woman making headlines is Beatie Deutsch, the award-winning marathon winner, who is also an American Orthodox mother of five. She has won marathons, from Jerusalem to Miami, and is destroying the stereotypes within the religious community.
Women who are supporting the rise of women include Naava Shafner, who founded ImaKadima, which lobbies and supports women who want to find balance between motherhood and advancing their career. The organization often works in collaboration and with the support of policy maker Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, who believes that “until women are in 50% of all decision-making positions our world will remain unbalanced. Local government affects our everyday lives and it is crucial to have women in these positions because when women are around the table the decisions are simply better.”
These are only a few examples of women making waves, and a sign of the times, that positive shifts are soon to come.