Nivcharot CEO Esty Shushan joined other feminist leaders such as former MK Rachel Azaria, Bracha Barad, director of Kulan, and journalist Tali Heruti-Sover in a special discussion in honor of International Women’s Day, led by news anchor Lucy Aharish. The discussion covered Israeli women’s struggle for equal rights, economic independence and political representation.
Regarding women’s fight for economic independence and equal employment opportunities, Esti explained the unique position of Haredi women, who are still generations behind in terms of formal education and career opportunities. In addition, although Haredi women are usually the main or only breadwinners in a family, and therefore have some control over finances, they have no real power in the broader sense because they are reduced to marginal positions in society and cannot demand their worth. Furthermore, Haredi society priorities Torah study and political activity, two fields from which women are excluded altogether. New models of leadership must be included and integrated, but this is still not happening. Esty also noted that the fact that women have in recent years understood the importance of economic independence and achieved it may have led to a rise in divorce rates, because women who are unhappy in their marriages can opt to leave.
On a more positive note, Esty said that the recent crisis around the suicide of Chaim Walder, accused of sexual abuse, and the suicide of one of his alleged victims, together with the work of Nivcharot and other activists, have created a real impact and the rabbinical authorities have no choice but to finally recognize the problem and relate to it.