A space for women in the Jewish community

NCJWA (Vic) president Miriam Bass (second from left) oversees the signing of the NCJWA Gender Equality Pledge by (from left) Jennifer Huppert (JCCV), Jeremy Leibler (ZFA) and Sharene Hambur (Zionism Victoria). Photo: Peter Haskin

THE Victorian branch of the National Council of Jewish Women of Australia (NCJWA) has made a push to ensure that Jewish women are equally represented in positions of leadership and at events within the community. 

The #MakeSpaceForHer campaign was born as the result of preliminary research conducted by the NCJWA (Vic) Advocacy Subcommittee into 70 communal organisations which found only 14 per cent of boards showed balanced gender representation; and 15 per cent of boards were exclusively male.

There was also a growing frustration that “despite the potential and skill among our peers to be a voice in community forums and to participate at the highest level of leadership in our community, we were not seeing or hearing from enough women”, explained Advocacy Subcommittee chair Anna Serry.

“More than half of our community is female,” NCJWA (Vic) president Miriam Bass noted. 

“We believe the leadership of our community should mirror the community that it serves and that our publications and events ought to reflect the people they seek to engage.”

Serry asked, “How are we going to leave a strong, vibrant and representative community for our kids if half the community is not fully engaged?”

A key point of action for the #MakeSpaceForHer campaign, is a request that all Jewish communal organisations in Victoria sign the NCJWA Gender Equality Pledge, with an intention for it to eventually “be rolled out throughout the Jewish community across Australia”, added Bass.

The Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA) and the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) were the first two signatories of the pledge; with Zionism Victoria also adopting the motion on Tuesday evening.

Meanwhile, this week’s edition of The AJN is our first annual issue dedicated to women in the Jewish community.

As part of the edition, we have published for the first time a list of the number of women on boards across the community because for too long communal boards have been dominated by men. The purpose is, in effect, to shine a light on which communal organisations are more inclusive on their boards.

Full coverage in this week’s AJN.