The Alliance of Jewish Women and their Organisations (AJWO) relaunched this week by unveiling the results of a consultation showing that 77 per cent of women feel the community has not yet reached gender equality.
A survey in January and February — What Do Jewish Women Want 2020 — also revealed that 50 per cent of Jewish women feel that communal organisations do not offer them the same opportunities as men (17 per cent disagreed). Three quarters of respondents believed that women were too often represented by men in the media and 95 per cent agreed that Jewish men and boys must be educated about equality.
On the plus side, 69 per cent believed the community has improved on gender equality over the past ten years.
The findings give the reshaped AJWO — formerly known as the Association of Jewish Women’s Organisations — a more defined sense of mission, including tackling the Jewish gender pay gap and ending all-male panels at events. The consultation also called for a stronger campaigning voice from Jewish women in wider society on issues such as climate change.
Around 100 women attended the AJWO relaunch in North London, where former MP Ruth Smeeth, Rachel Riley and Tamara Finkelstein, permanent secretary at the Department for the Environment, were among the speakers.
“Women have always been the heart and soul of our community,” Ms Smeeth pointed out. “The relaunch of AJWO provides a new forum for female leadership to make sure our community is supporting the next generation.
AJWO co-chair Laura Marks added: “Jewish women are brave, competent and game-changers. I’m galvanised by the mandate they have given us to go out in the world to drive social change”
The other co-chair, Judy Silkoff, said that as an Orthodox woman, “I’m very encouraged to see so many Orthodox women engaging in the discussion about really important equality issues. I’m excited to see just how much change AJWO has the potential to bring about.”