Twenty-six female Knesset members combined efforts this week in an attempt to create a lobby that would further feminist legislature aimed at fostering gender equality in Israel. The move, which was timed to coincide with International Women's Day, was initiated by MK Merav Michaeli (Labor) and enjoyed full support from all Knesset factions.
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“We’re a minority in the Knesset,” said Michaeli this week. “Our power is limited in terms of feminist legislature, as we are a minority. Some of our efforts are being joined by the men, too. It goes without saying that we cannot pass laws on our own, especially not a law that will advance equal gender representation in the Knesset. It does not go without saying that the men will vote for such a law – which will reduce their power in the Knesset by a third after the next election."
Michaeli is planning to join forces with other female MKs in order to advance inclusion of women in foreign affairs, security, and the peace process. In addition, the joint effort is aimed at effecting wider change in Israeli society - the project will examine the effect of Knesset legislation on women, children, the elderly and other minorities, and will confront what they say is an anti-woman bias in legislation and budgets.
Michaeli’s initiative is part of a broader Labor party agenda to advance the status of women in Israel in general, and politics in particular. Since the current session began, Labor MKs have proposed 18 laws to advance the status of women. “The Labor party’s agenda, all day, every day, is aimed at empowering women and ensuring their rights,” explained party chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich.
Yacimovich added she has been fighting for women’s rights her whole life, and the she “is glad to see that MKs in our faction are deeply committed to equality between men and women. All the female MKs in the Labor party label themselves as feminist. That should not be taken for granted, but in our party, it’s completely natural."
MK Faina Kirschenbaum (Yisrael Beiteinu) declined to join the effort.