Giving through a gender lens

THE notion that gender inequality is no longer an issue – that we are living in a post-feminist era where women enjoy full access and equality – is a common misconception, according to Hamutal Gouri, a leading advocate in the field.

Gouri, who is the executive director of The Dafna Fund, was in Australia earlier this month as a guest of the New Israel Fund and Limmud-Oz. Established in 2003 by the late Professor Dafna Izraeli, The Dafna Fund’s mission is to promote gender equality and women’s rights in Israel by supporting innovative projects that focus on women’s leadership and gender mainstreaming.

“We know that women are still underemployed, underpaid, [and] excluded from many positions of power and decision-making,” Gouri told The AJN of the global landscape.

She said that counter-narratives regarding gender go back to some conservative notions of the place of women. “We can find both in Jewish sources as well as other religions’ sources, texts that relegate women to the private sphere.

“And so still in our societies – and not only in religious communities – the presence of women in the public sphere as agents of change or as leaders is still perceived as unnatural by many people. Sometimes even women,” Gouri said.

In this light, she advocates for the inclusion of women in leadership and decision-making and works with women from all walks of life to help them become agents of social change.

“I feel that as long as women anywhere are still suffering from either inequality or lack of access or oppression, that is an issue that we must face as women and feminists,” she said.

She believes we need to approach the issue differently if we are to go any way towards making a change.

“It’s like the issue of gender, or women, is perceived as being in competition with education, health, warfare, of foreign policy … the truth is, gender should be a lens that we apply when looking at every single one of the issues that are on the public agenda,” Gouri said.

While in Sydney, Gouri presented at Limmud-Oz. In Melbourne she was hosted at Arnold Bloch Leibler by the Australian Women Donors Network in partnership with the Australian Jewish Funders, and worked with organisations including Stand Up, among other engagements.

PHOEBE ROTH

Co-founder and chair of the Australian Women Donors Network Eve Mahlab (left) and Hamutal Gouri. Photo: Sam Hastie