Twenty Years after Beijing in Israel: An Intersectional Approach

Monday, 11 July 2016: 16:00
Location: Hörsaal 33 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Sylvie BIJAOUI, College of Management Academic Studies, Israel
Intersectionality  is a way of conceptualizing the relations between systems of oppression which construct  identities and  social locations in hierarchies of power and privilege, ( Crenshaw 1989; Carastathis 2014).

In this paper, applying an intersectional approach, I analyze , how, following the Beijing Platform for Action (PFA),  gender (in)equality , has been advanced among different /hierarchized groups of Israeli  women .

My paper, based on data from the U.N., the Central Bureau of Statistics of Israel and the Israeli NGOs’ sites and publications, is divided into four parts.

I first document the positive changes that have occurred in the position of  Israeli women  in the last two decades and their reflection  in the 2014  Gender Development Index, where Israel is ranked 19th.

I then point out to the fact that the highly NGOized  feminist movement in Israel, in order to promote  the PFA,  mostly engaged  in  feminism training and/or academic and/or  cyber  feminism , addressing international law ,  state feminism and political parties -  practices chiefly tailored  for 'urban white  middle-class women'. 

Further, referring to the ethnic and socio economic divide  between the geographical center and the geographical periphery in Israel, I emphasize the fact that  women at the center of Israel  ("The Tel-Aviv Bubble"), mostly Ashkenazi, have made much more significant steps toward gender equality than those at the country's geographical  periphery, where Mizrahi  and  Arab women together with immigrant women  from the Former Soviet Union or Ethiopia are over-represented. I also draw attention to the fact that basic rights of non-citizens, migrant women or refugees, have been frequently ignored.

As a conclusion, I argue that intersectionality , by making women's social locations and experiences visible,  acts as a theoretical and methodological  corrective against hegemonic discourses   and appears as a prerequisite to advance the human rights of (all) women.