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“Tahrir March of Women”: International Women’s Day in Tel Aviv

in ISRAEL, 09/03/2011

More than 120 people marched in Tel Aviv Tuesday, 8 March, to commemorate 100 years of International Women’s Day. The group was diverse, bisexual, transgender, lesbian, queer, gay, women, men, Mizrachi, Ashkenazi, Russian-speaking, Palestinian, refugees, youth, seniors, demanding an end to discrimination.

Participants marched down Rothschild Boulevard to Electricity Park, chanting and holding signs demanding equality for women from Tel Aviv to East Jerusalem, Palestinian and Jewish. Dorit Abramovich, an Israeli queer activist, led the march and spoke to the crowd.

“Women’s issues are connected to the occupation and military in Israeli society,” Sonya, a student activist from Tel Aviv told the AIC during the rally.

“I believe they are not seen as women, but as child bearing machines, which is sad,” said Sonya. “Militarism enforces the patriarchal society. Male violence is excused, because men are seen as former soldiers, and women suffer.”

Though advances have been made in recent years to promote the equality of women in Israeli society, notes the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, gender discrimination still exists in almost every aspect of life: employment, health, personal status, and more. Women from minority groups – such as migrant workers, Palestinians, lesbians and transgenders – are particularly at risk as they encounter multiple forms of discrimination.

“The severity of women’s issues in Israel is regressing, as more funding goes to security, women and children are the main sufferers,” Hagit, a feminist from Tel Aviv, told the AIC.

2011 has been an alarming year so far for women’s rights and advocacy groups in Israel. A spree of domestic violence incidences across the country has left 13 women dead, and a few children as well.

 

According to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, in 2009 40% of Israeli female workers were part-time employees, compared to only 18% of male employees, and the average woman’s salary was only 66% of the average man’s salary – 6280 NIS for women and 9626 NIS for men.

The current Knesset has only 23 female members (less than 20%) and there are only 3 women in the government ministries (10%), according to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.

“Women in the Middle East and North Africa today expect their state to work for the benefit of all - not only a few. They expect it to uphold their dignity and worth, and to adopt laws, policies, and strategies that translate these words into tangible results,” wrote UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in a statement for International Women’s Day.

“Societies in which women are excluded, formally or informally, from public life, cannot be described as truly democratic, as the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women has warned time and again,” Pillay continued.

 

According to Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, an estimated 10,000 Palestinian women have been arrested and detained since 1967 under Israeli military orders. As of 1 February 2011, 36 Palestinian women remain in Israel's prisons and detention centers, including 3 women in administrative detention. The two prisons in which Palestinian women are detained are located outside the 1967 occupied territory, in direct contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

“Women must be able to shape the future of their countries by being involved in institutional reforms from the beginning,” Pillay said to women worldwide. “Women’s full participation is essential not only for their empowerment, but for the advancement of society as a whole.”

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