It felt like forever when I was standing at the crosswalk near my home waiting for the light to turn red. I pressed the button. I watched cars speeding by. I saw the lights change in other parts of the
intersection. But my little section, populated only by me, kept getting ignored. I checked my watch. I wondered how long it would take. After a few minutes, the pedestrian light facing me turned green. Hallelujah! I gave the dog leash a gentle pull, and off we trotted across the street.
Well, almost. Halfway through the crosswalk, the light started blinking. I sped up. It did not help. By the time I reached the other side of the street, the light was already red and cars were revving to go.
This was infuriating. It reminded me of pretty much everything I read in Caroline Criado Perez’s book, Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men, about how the world is so often designed for the needs of a 5’10” 70 kilo male speeding around unhindered. I am a 5”0’ woman walking a dog, and I could not even get across the street without risking my life. The crosswalk was clearly designed by people who have no idea that I exist.
Right before the pandemic broke out, when I was running for Knesset in Israel with the Kol Hanashim Women’s Party, I spoke about this all the time. In every event and meeting that we held across the country, I described the many ways that citizens suffer when there are not enough
women in positions of power. Issues that we might think of as unimpacted by gender are in fact heavily impacted – how parks are built, which roads are invested in, where public restrooms are built and tended to, street lighting, and more.
In the town where I live, there are currently only two women on the municipal council. That is not good.
Although the Women’s Party did not get any seats in parliament, the impact of our advocacy was felt last week in a way that left me feeling hopeful. The Tel Aviv municipality announced plans to introduce policy-making with a gendered lens. So, for example, rather than building ramps on the sidewalk that can only accommodate the width of bicycles, ramps will be built wider, in order to accommodate strollers and wheelchairs. Things like that.
I’m excited about the news from Tel Aviv, but there is still so much more work to be done.
We need women’s voices urgently. If the world is every going to effectively address issues of equal rights, preserving democracy, combatting sexual abuse, fighting climate change, or eliminating poverty, women’s voices need to be heard. There are many ways to do this, and I am eager to help women find their platforms and their power for the benefit of all of humanity.
I am committed to enabling women to have their voices heard in order to make this world better for all of us. If you want to chat with me about how you can amplify your voice, contact me any time.