This International Women’s Day, I am reminded of Israeli superstar Gal Gadot’s powerful words when she said: “I wanted to show that women are empowered and strong, and don’t have to be saved by some male hero, but can take care of themselves using their intelligence and power.”
At Jewish National Fund-USA (JNF-USA), our organization is powered by “wonder women.” They are our sisters, mothers, aunts, and bubbes and they are changing the world.
As a JNF-USA lay leader and Women for Israel Sapphire Society member, I proudly serve with other strong and determined women in support of the land and people of Israel and Jewish People everywhere.
Unlike much of the corporate sector, the philanthropic world is driven by women. We are not only part of the conversation; we are leading it.
In the nonprofit sector, 75% of women make up the labor force, according to “The White House Project: Benchmarking Women in Leadership” report. Additional data shows that women represent 51% of total wealth in the U.S.— approximately $22 trillion. That’s a lot of shekels and at JNF-USA, so many of our philanthropic investments in Israel are proudly led by women.
This International Women’s Day, I think of all of the women helping JNF-USA attract 800,000 new residents to Israel’s Negev and Galilee.
I think of Michal Shiloah Galnoor in Akko who leads our JNF-USA Western Galilee Tourist Information Center. As part of our Western Galilee Now initiative, Michal and JNF-USA are bringing Israel’s northern tour operators and small businesses together to boost economic prosperity and elevate the region’s quality of life. They are also giving Galilean female entrepreneurs the tools and support to succeed – many of whom wouldn’t have had the economic freedom to do so otherwise due to the traditional cultures of their households.
In Israel’s south, I think of Tamar Gil Menachem who leads the JNF-USA Lauder Employment Center. As we prepare Israel for an unprecedent economic bounce back, the Center will continue to play a pivotal role in bringing jobs and growth back to Israel’s frontier communities. And few others can bring people together like Tamar. It’s no surprise that she’s able to bring titans of industry, government, business, and education together to coordinate their approach to employment in the region.
When I think of female transformation leaders, one other name comes to mind. You’ve probably never heard of her, yet I’m certain the world will soon learn her name. I’m talking about Tal Ohana, the 36-year-old mayor of Yeruham in Israel’s south. Her town was known as a “development town,” yet the irony was it wasn’t developing. Today, in partnership with JNF-USA, Yeruham is holding on to its young people and developing rapidly as a 21st century town. JNF-USA has created parks, playgrounds, a firehouse, supported affordable housing development, and I’m sure in Tal’s mind, she’s only getting started.
Hand-in-hand with our affiliates in Israel, JNF-USA’s Women for Israel continue to drive change in Israel and throughout the Jewish world. If you’re looking to make an impact, and supporting an organization where women have an equal say at the decision table is important to you, you should make JNF-USA your voice in Israel.
Kim Kotzin is Desert States President of Jewish National Fund-USA. International Women’s Day is held around the world on March 8.