International Women’s Day

>> Read all messages from Zehava Galon

This year’s International Women’s Day is unlike any other ever celebrated in this country. There is nothing normal about it, as we mark it alongside 154 days in Hamas captivity of 19 women hostages.

Earlier this week, Pramila Patten, the UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, published a report that unequivocally acknowledged the sexual assaults carried out by Hamas on October 7. In a chronicle of rape, torture, and mutilation, the report affirmed that there was reason to believe the hostages were being subjected to sexual violence. Most Israelis did not need to read the report as they already knew, having heard about it from the hostages who were released. For over five months now we have all been living with this terrible knowledge, and with the women still being held in Gaza.

A totally different piece of news that emerged this week dealt with the Otzma Yehudit party’s efforts to terminate the meager budget allocation to the Michal Sela Forum, a nonprofit seeking to eradicate violence against women founded by Lili Ben-Ami, whose sister Michal was murdered by her life partner. In a discussion in the Knesset, Ben-Ami spoke about 276 threatened women and 900 children protected by her NPO, which had committed the “sin” of speaking out against the reckless distribution of guns by National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, hence his revenge. Again, the safety of women and their children is used as a tool to achieve a completely different goal.

These are terrible times to be a woman in present-day Israel. We have gone back light years. At a time when rape and sexual abuse has become a terrorist tool, women are hardly represented in the political system, and it looks like we won’t see a single woman party leader in the next elections. Women are nowhere to be found around the decision-making tables: there are hardly any women in the coalition, either in the government or as directors of ministries, and there are zero women in the war cabinet. Not even one cabinet member appears to concern himself with the safety of women, their rights, their voice. The protection of all these has been entrusted to a bunch of men who are gender-blind and couldn’t care less about women’s needs.

Therefore, it comes as no surprise that since its establishment the current government has made no move to combat domestic violence. It abolished the Authority for the Advancement of the Status of Women, prevented Israel’s accession to international treaties on combatting gender and domestic violence, and has gone to great lengths to impede the work of organizations dealing with the subject. To be honest, we were not shocked as we expected nothing else from them.

More than ever before, the events of October 7 highlighted the importance of placing the issue of gender equality on the agenda, so that women’s voices are no longer ignored, so that the mechanisms and barriers that prevent the integration of women in the public sphere are identified, and so that the laws promoted in Israel reflect an egalitarian and inclusive worldview.

As someone who served in the Knesset for a long time, I want to tell you something: Just as one government can set us back, the change in the opposite direction can be just as dramatic and heartening. It’s up to us, to all of you. We will yet turn the wheel back, you shall see!

I have only one wish for this Women’s Day: May all the hostages return safely to their homes!


Zehava Galon


Dr. Maha Sabbah Karkabi


Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from Tel Aviv University (2015), a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Gender Studies, SOAS, University of London (2015-2016), a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Sociology at Tel Aviv University (2016-2017), and a postdoctoral fellowship Ph.D. at the Humphrey Institute for Social Research, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (2018-2020).
Dr. Maha Karbahi’s areas of interest focus on the connection between social change, family behavior, and gender inequality in societies in the process of change and specifically in Palestinian Arab society in Israel. Her research draws attention to the study of family life and employment, using a combined “ethnic lens” and “gender lens” and paying attention to the perspective of Palestinian Arab women, a group characterized by intersections between multiple marginal locations, which over the years has remained hidden from the research eye. Dr. Karkabi-Sabah’s research is published in professional journals and chapters in scientific books that are considered pioneers in family research, work, and gender equality.


Prof. Frances Raday

Professor Emeritus in the Lieberman Chair in Labor Law, in the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University and serves as a full professor in the College of Management’s academic track, where she also serves as chair of the graduate program and as honorary president of the Concord Center for International Law Absorption. Radai was a member of a working group of the UN Human Rights Council on discrimination against women. In addition, she is a prominent and feminist human rights activist.


Dr. Rawia Aburabia 

Faculty member of Sapir Academic College’s School of Law, received her PhD from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her research deals with the interface between law, gender, minorities, and human rights. Has published in leading journals on the subject of the matrimonial laws pertaining to Muslim women in Israel. Her book Under the Law, Outside Justice: Polygamy, Gendered Citizenship, and Colonialism in Israeli Law is expected to be published as part of the Gender Series of Kibbutz Meuhad Publishing House.

Dr. Aburabia has extensive experience in international human rights and public law. She has worked as a jurist for the Association for Civil Right and has been invited as a specialist to address such international forums as the United Nations and the European Parliament on the subject of indigenous communities and minority rights. She has interned with Human Rights Watch in Washington DC, and has been a member of the executive board of Amnesty International. In 2018, she was selected by the magazine Globes as one of the 40 most promising young persons in Israel under the age of 40.



Ron Kessler

With over two decades of experience in the field of digital content, Ron has participated in numerous political and social campaigns. He helped run the digital activity of senior public officials, and worked in various NGOs. Ron is a fundamentally optimistic man, who believes that Israel can be changed and so can people. Lives in Tel Aviv.