Representing 51% of the population, 102 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, and 88 seats in the House of Commons of Canada, women are finding themselves in more and more leadership positions. Nevertheless, we have a long way to go until true gender equality is reached.
On March 8, we celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women around the world with International Women's Day. Each year the day also is given a theme around the issue of gender parity; this year’s theme is #BalanceforBetter.
The theme focuses on how balance is not a women’s issue, rather a business issue. Gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive.
Collectively every person and all groups can make a difference within their sphere of influence by taking concrete action to help build a more gender-balanced world. From small powerful grassroots gatherings to large-scale conference and events - International Women's Day is celebrated everywhere. It's a big day for inspiration and change.
Coinciding with this day of celebration, this year is also the 30th anniversary of the creation of Women of the Wall. On the morning on December 1, 1988, a group of approximately 70 women from a variety of Jewish denominations arrived at the Kotel with a Torah scroll to conduct a halakhic women’s prayer service. Since that day, Women of the Wall has continued the struggle for women to pray together, out loud, while wearing tallit and tefillin, and reading from a Torah scroll at the Kotel. WRJ is a strong supporter of the efforts by Women of the Wall, helping to spread gender equality in the Holy Land and moreover, adding to this year’s theme of gender balance.
For this International Day of Women consider celebrating the achievements of Women of the Wall, in addition to honoring the women in your sisterhood and communities.
Here are some ideas for you to use as you celebrate International Women's Day and Women of the Wall's 30th anniversary with your community:
- Compose a sermon focusing on Women of the Wall and other movements of gender equality
- Involve women of all ages in the service, especially the Torah service
- Ask your choir or cantor to learn and sing Women of the Wall’s new song, “Kumi Ori” during the service. Women of the Wall is also inviting congregations and singers to sing the song in advance, record it, and send a video to WOW to include in a film to made for the special weekend in Israel.
- Sign up as a pilot congregation under the Reform Pay Equity Initiative. The Initiative was created to assess the salaries of the professionals who serve Reform institutions and develop a plan to address the gender pay gap within our community.
- Urge your members of Congress to cosponsor the Paycheck Fairness Act, legislation supported by WRJ and the Reform Movement at large, that would update and strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963.
The struggle for women’s rights at the Western Wall, within our Reform institutions and communities, and around the world is a fight that we as women of Reform Judaism will combat together. On March 8, let us stand together as Women of Reform Judaism in the struggle for women's rights - at the Western Wall, our Reform institutions and communities, and around the world.
Alyson Malinger is the WRJ Advocacy and Communications Associate.