The Empowering the Empowerers training program is a joint initiative of Adva Center, the Union of Mayoral Advisors on Gender Equality and the Federation of Local Authorities in Israel. The project is designed to equip Mayoral Advisors with the requisite support and skills to advance tangible structural changes for women, expand the platform for peer learning, provide opportunities for collaborations, and strengthen the Union´s position among decision makers.
During the current crisis and the lockdown, project participants continued to meet – this time online. Even though most Advisors were sent away on unpaid leave, they continued to speak and consult with one another via ZOOM, WhatsApp and telephone. They supported each other, shared initiatives they are working on, and devised steps designed to have their role defined as vital (in which case they would be called back to work).
At these meetings, the Advisors speak about the need to include women in the decision-making processes taking place in the corona crisis command centers, so that the voices and needs of women from various population groups in the local authority are given voice.
The needs and the initiatives they address include: operating a virtual information center for women, addressing the rise in domestic violence by providing women who opt not to turn to the social welfare department and/or aid centers with the information they need; creating support programs for different groups of women who are alone (older women, divorcees and single mothers) to alleviate loneliness and proffer advice and comfort; providing information pertaining to custody issues and working women´s rights; improving networking between women who own small businesses, and more.
Together, they wrote to the Heads of the Local Authorities, the Director General of the Interior Ministry and the CEO of the Federation of Local Authorities and described their activities. In addition, with Itach-Maaki: Women Lawyers for Social Justice, they petitioned the High Court of Justice to recognize their work as vital and return them to work.
Subsequently, the Interior Ministry acknowledged that Mayoral Advisors on Gender Equality are statutory officials who must be returned to work. This amazing achievement is the result of the impressive teamwork of the Advisors and their collaborations with CSOs. Congratulations to the Advisors!