Peta Jones Pellach
Teacher and activist in Jerusalem

At the Photocopier

“What do you do here?” he asked. So I answered, “I am with the Kiverstein Institute, a feminist organisation working on an initiative to get more women into local government administrations.”

“What are the figures?” he asked. “About 19% are currently women,” I responded.

He didn’t say anything.

“It needs changing,” I added.

After he told me that he had thought that the deputy mayor of Jerusalem was a woman, I explained to him the difference between the Jerusalem Municipality and the local administrations. I also shared with him that many decisions that matter to the lives of Jerusalem residents take place at the local level.

He then challenged me, asking if it were not about whether women were interested or not in running. Once I confirmed with him that he had not been aware of what I had told him, it did not take much for him to realise that most Jerusalemites were just like him – as I had been: unaware of the role of the local administrations, unaware that members of the public can be elected to them, unaware that elections are long overdue, unaware that in the second half of this year, elections will take place in most neighbourhoods.

“So,” he asked, “Do you want to have 50% women?” “Yes,” I answered, “Or more.” But I then explained that our work in making the public aware of the local administrations and their mandate was beneficial to men and women. Perhaps this time around, we won’t reach gender parity. However, we do plan to provide greater transparency about the elections and the work of the administrations and look forward to the time when they better reflect the communities they serve.

Our printing was done.

He said, “Why is that ‘feminist’? It just seems logical to me. Or is that just what feminism is?”

About the Author
A fifth generation Australian, Peta made Aliyah in 2010. She is Senior Fellow of the Kiverstein Institute, Director of Educational Activities for the Elijah Interfaith Institute, secretary of the Jerusalem Rainbow Group for Jewish-Christian Encounter and Dialogue, a co-founder of Praying Together in Jerusalem and a teacher of Torah and Jewish History. She has visited places as exotic as Indonesia and Iceland to participate in and teach inter-religious dialogue. She also broadcasts weekly on SBS radio (Australia) with the latest news from Israel. Her other passions are Scrabble and Israeli folk-dancing.
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