Researcher Noga Dagan-Buzaglo of NIF partner the Adva Center writes that in times of crisis, Israeli women are far more likely than men to lose their job or be placed on unpaid leave. This was true during the Covid-19 pandemic and it is true now during the war in Gaza. Women make up a majority of wage-laborers in Israel, and they are more likely to have their hours and pay cut,  sent on leave without pay, or have their pensions, sick leave, and vacation pay reduced. And as so many men have been called to army reserve duty, many women are also losing their support system, their partner, and their co-parent. Thus, on top of reduced hours, or even being laid off, they are now shouldering more household labor and childcare than usual. Women are stretched thin, and the Adva Center—a progressive economics think tank—knows it. The Adva Center was asked by Israel’s Ministry for the Advancement of Women to advise the government on how best to meet women and girls’ needs during the current crisis, and they are answering the call.

To begin with, women and girls’ needs are under-represented in Israel’s current government. Women currently hold just 31 of 120 Knesset (26%) seats and just 6 of 27 ministries (20%), a significant step back from the last government, where 35 women were members of Knesset and 9 were ministers. But the Adva Center has the backs of the most vulnerable among them in so many ways. In the wake of sexual and physical assaults on October 7 by Hamas terrorists, many women and girls faced feelings of shame—and the health care system was unprepared to care for them. The Adva Center successfully pushed the Ministry of Health to adopt medical protocols which took their experiences and trauma into account. And in Israel’s south, where Bedouin mothers and their babies often live in unrecognized villages which are disconnected from Israeli infrastructure and profoundly underserved, they cannot access the health care they need. The Adva Center advised the Ministry of Health to build more family centers for Bedouin mothers–and the Ministry built them.

The Adva Center is also calling for the government to include women on teams and committees where important decisions are made. Negotiations between Israel and Hamas to release the hostages are ongoing, but only one woman is working on Israel’s negotiation team. The Adva Center joined a call demanding that women be included in hostage negotiations now—not later. In an email to supporters, they wrote: “On the ‘day after,’ women will be the ones who pick up the pieces, care for the wounded, the bereaved parents, and the traumatized children. To support and protect women from domestic abuse while ensuring that public services are responsive to their needs, it is crucial to include women in decision-making processes so as to amplify their voices and ensure that their needs and concerns are addressed.”