International Women's Day

International Women’s Day, which was originally called “International Working Women’s Day”, is observed each year on the 8th of March throughout the world, with a variety of events emphasizing honor and appreciation of women, as well as women’s economic, political and social achievements.
 

How women helped KKL-JNF to build the State of Israel, and continue to do so today

In a survey that was carried out in Israel recently by WIZO, it was shown that 54% of the Israeli population believes that there is discrimination toward women in society. This same survey showed that 64% of those who do not believe that there is discrimination against women are young religious men with an education level of high school or less.

The survey found that there is a connection between those who believe that there is no discrimination against women in Israel and the attitudes that perpetuate discrimination toward women. These data and other information that arose from the research indicate the need for increasing the exposure and awareness of discrimination toward women, in order to decrease the extent of discriminatory attitudes.

One of the women especially worthy of note on International Women’s Day is Henrietta Szold – educator and Zionist activist, who headed the Youth Aliyah movement, which engaged in rescuing Jewish youths from Europe, preparing them for a life of work and agriculture and absorption in the Land of Israel. Szold was one of the founders of the Hadassah Women’s Organization and was its head in its first years. Her many activities made her one of the most influential figures in the Zionist movement at its inception in the beginning of the twentieth century.

From KKL-JNF archives, one can learn about the cooperation in the field of education between Henrietta Szold and KKL-JNF in, among other spheres, the allocation of land for the establishment of schools under her responsibility.

Henrietta Szold’s extensive activity in education brought about the recognition from KKL-JNF and its decision to dedicate a special section in the Golden Book in honor of Szold.

The fruitful collaboration between KKL-JNF and the Hadassah Women’s Organization continues to this day, in a variety of projects that have been established in Israel with the support of Hadassah Women's Zionist Organization of America, including forests, groves and sites  such as American  Independence Park and Nahal Beersheva Park, accessible paths and facilities in Haruvit Forest and Nahal Hashofet Park, the establishment of new communities, development of the Galilee, Negev and the Arava, and therapeutic gardens in hospitals.

One of the forests that were established thanks to Hadassah is the International Women’s Forest, which was established with the cooperation of women’s organizations, private individuals and other organizations in Israel and abroad. The International Women’s Forest is located in Tur’an Forest in the northern part of Israel and the donor recognition wall for this forest is located in the KKL-JNF Golani center.
 
The most recent grove in Israel established in memory of a distinguished woman is the Nicole Bricq Grove in Adulam-France Park in the Judean Foothills. The grove was dedicated in February 2018  by French politicians past and present, in memory of French government minister Nicole Bricq Bricq, who was a member of the French Senate and served as minister of ecology, energy and sustainable development and as minister of foreign trade.

Another forest that was established with women’s contributions is the Forest for the Jewish Argentine Woman, which is located in Yatir Forest in the Negev. The Forest for the Jewish Argentine Woman was dedicated during the visit of a special delegation from Argentina in 2014.
 
In 2017, KKL-JNF had the privilege of hosting two distinguished stateswomen: New Zealand Governor General Dame Patricia Lee Reddy GNZM, QSO, DStJ, who took the time to plant a tree on Oct. 30 at the KKL-JNF Grove of Nations in Jerusalem as a symbol of friendship between her country and Israel; and Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Water and Natural Resources, Professor Judy Wakhungu, who headed a Kenyan delegation to Israel in June 2017 to learn about KKL-JNF’s work and to sign a memorandum of understanding for cooperation between KKL-JNF and Kenya.
 
2017 was also the first 'Women’s Race through the Woods' marathon, which was the brainchild of Avivit Bismot, who is a resident of the Haredi (Ultra-Orthodox) town of Elad. The race was held in Kula Forest under the auspices of KKL-JNF, and was the start of what will become an annual tradition.

The theme of Israel's 66th Independence Day was The Era of Women, celebrating women and all their achievements and contributions to Israel's development, past and present. In honor of this day, we interviewed some of the women of KKL-JNF, who take part in spearheading the achievements of KKL-JNF in its many spheres of activities. These special women are senior managers, field coordinators and foresters.