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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
A coalition of women's groups launched a campaign Tuesday aimed at bringing a female president into power for the first time in Israel.
"There have been eight presidents of the State of Israel, and never once has a woman even run for the position," said Dorit Abramovitch, an activist for several women's organizations and the head of this new campaign, in an interview with The Jerusalem Post.
Avital determined to pursue presidency
"We hope that because of this campaign, more women will come forward and run for the position, women who in the past felt that they did not have a chance to win," she continued, adding that because of the accusations of sexual assault and rape surrounding incumbent President Moshe Katsav, "the public is on our side more than ever before."
Even though no elections have yet been scheduled, numerous individuals have already announced their plans to run for the job when the time arrives. Only one woman - MK Colette Avital (Labor) - has stepped forward so far.
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post this week, she said it was time for a woman president in Israel.
Abramovitch, however, said that the campaign was not lending its support to any one candidate; rather, it just wanted to highlight the fact that Israel needs to address this inequality.
"The reality in Israel is for only men to run for the presidency. There is not even a title created for a potential husband of a female president. It is only referred to as the first lady," she pointed out.
According to Abramovitch, the campaign will focus on promoting the idea of a female president in the media via advertising, and through meetings with individual Knesset members who cast the deciding vote in the election of the president.
Since discussions began about launching such a campaign, Abramovitch says she has been inundated by support from various women's groups in Israel. Among the groups who have already joined the campaign are the Ahoti Movement For Women in Israel, The Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel, The Coalition of Women for Peace, Kol Haisha - the Haifa Feminist Center, the Women's Parliament, and the Palestinian Lesbian organization Asvat. More local feminist-focused and women's groups are likely to join the campaign soon, said Abramovitch.
In the public domain, several high profile figures have also lent their names to the campaign, including political figures MK Zehava Gal-On, Professor Nomi Hazan, Mizpeh Ramon Mayor Flora Shoshan - who is the sister of Defense Minister Amir Peretz - and pop culture icons Leah Shabat and Gimmel Yafit, as well as numerous academics.
"I believe that we will succeed in generating a change in the beliefs of the Israeli public and will bring forward the opportunity for a woman to run for the position of president of Israel," said Shula Keshet, director of Ahoti. "A woman president will promote a feminist agenda that will enable change in the brotherhood and will further equality and partnership with women."
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