To mark and celebrate International Women's Day 2016, WIZO, the largest women's organization in Israel, launched several exciting and highly relevant initiatives and events.
Conference: "Harassing the Nation – Changing the Rules of the Game"
The conference, which was open to the public, addressed the current, continuing wave of sexual harassment incidents involving leading political, military and entertainment figures in Israel. The event's various panel discussions, including "The Criminal Standard vs. the Ethical Standard," which discussed the use of social media as a forum for denouncing assailants, featured leading Israeli personalities from the fields of politics, law, entertainment, journalism and more. The goal of the conference was to deal with the changes in the way that Israeli society views and addresses the phenomenon of sexual harassment, whether private, institutional or governmental. The conference also presented and debated the new role of social/digital media as a tool and forum for reporting and dealing with incidents of sexual harassment as well as society's responsibility to establish commonly accepted ideas about what is appropriate behavior towards women at home, at the workplace and in everyday life. Additional presentations told the personal stories of women who suffered sexual abuse and encouraged women to combat the stigma and shame that prevent the reporting of 90% of incidents of sexual harassment against women in Israel. The conference was attended by WIZO leadership, executive members and President of World WIZO, Esther Mor.
Chairperson of WIZO Israel, Gila Oshrat, commented at the event, "Breaking the silence and raising awareness of sexual harassment will create a healthier and more equal society. The journey is still long, but the social discussion of this problem is becoming greater and greater." Chairperson of World WIZO Executive, Prof. Rivka Lazovsky, addressed the audience, "I want to begin with a positive message. I want to salute all the women who have suffered abuse and had the courage to file a complaint. You are trailblazers. Your stories are relevant for the entire country." She added, "I also salute all of my WIZO sisters who struggle for gender equality for women around the world. WIZO has been very successful in improving the status of women in Israeli society, in leading this discussion in Israeli society, and in preventing violence and sexual abuse against women. All of these achievements are dependent upon the work of tens of thousands of volunteers, worldwide."
Wear it. Share it.
Another WIZO project forInternational Women's Day 2016 was a fashionable project launched in collaboration with clothing stores and a chain of shopping centers: a collection of t-shirts designed by Liat Ayoun, featuring empowering messages for women both in English and Hebrew.
The collection was accompanied by a video campaign featuring famous female Israeli celebrities, public figures, Knesset members and government ministers like Gila Gamliel, Minister of Equality, encouraging women to realize their goals and not let outdated stigmas stand in their way. The video campaign appeared on prime-time television and. Proceeds from the sale of the t-shirts will benefit at-risk and battered women in WIZO projects and institutions. Please share the video and link!
The Shame List: The Year's Most Sexist Television Commercials
For the eighth year in a row, WIZO created and publicized a list of the most sexist and chauvinist television commercials in Israel, as chosen by a professional committee of experts on gender and media, academics, journalists and legal experts with the title, "The Shame List." The purpose of the initiative is to raise awareness to gender-bias and negative representation of women and their bodies in media, and to bring about a change in the way women are represented in commercial media.
This year, a commercial for "Milky Gold" (a chocolate dessert product) which enforces negative gender stereotypes relating to women, was chosen as the #1 most sexist commercial of 2016.
Click to watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SsiqPs_xgfU
This year, WIZO is participating in a surrogacy conference marking the 20th anniversary of Israel's surrogacy law. The event will present and debate issues and questions relating to the social and ethical aspects of the surrogacy process, and will attempt to actively lead the way to greater availability of surrogacy to the entire population and not only married, heterosexual couples.