“Inspiring Change” is this year’s theme for International Women’s Day. While the world will mark the annual event on March 8, 2014, in Israel – because of the Sabbath – a number of activities celebrating the day are already underway, while other events will take place throughout the month.
All the municipalities have special events and talks planned in celebration of the social, political and economic achievements of women while focusing attention on areas requiring further action. There are concerts and theater productions, panels and lectures, art tours and film festivals.
One of the bigger events is an enormous dance party on March 28. “We will dance on one of the highest roofs of Israel, under the boundless sky,” according to the LifeDance campaign project. “We will have Jews, Christians and Muslims dancing together, sweating, laughing, and moving together to the same amazing music.”
International Women’s Day kicked off in 1911 and has been marked annually to inspire positive change.
While there is still much progress to be made, this past year saw girl power on the rise at Israeli companies, women forging a new banking tradition, women athletes ascending podiums at international competitions, and empowerment in male-dominated industries.
Israeli women in 2013 were dubbed among the world’s brightest young innovators and They were highlighted as leading voices in the art world and for excelling in extreme sports In the Central Bureau of Statistics’ recent annual gender equality report, it shows that Israeli women make up 57 percent of university students — 56.7% of those holding bachelor degrees, 59.9% of those holding a master’s degree and 52.1% of those holding doctoral degrees.
Yet, the same report showed that women make up only 15% of top executives in the private and business sectors. And as in years past, women’s wages are still lower (34% lower) than men’s.
State Comptroller Yosef Shapira also released a report in honor of International Women’s Day. His research corroborated the CBS data and found that women in Israel are still struggling to break through the glass ceiling in senior positions in government ministries, hospitals, government-owned corporations, private corporations, universities and other public entities.
On a positive note, the representation of women in the current Knesset is at an all-time high. However, it still represents only half of women’s proportion in the total population.
The comptroller wrote that the government and its ministers “must, each in their own field, work to promote gender equality in senior positions and refrain from appointments that may undermine this goal.”
Also of interest, the CBS report revealed that Israeli women make up 43% of the driving population. In 2013, women drivers were involved in only 55 of the 495 fatal car accidents – just 11% of the country’s total, despite the stereotypical jokes about women behind the wheel.