More than one hundred women parliamentarians from countries around the world met on Thursday, November 8, in the chamber of the British House of Commons to commemorate the centennial of women’s suffrage in the UK. Female MPs from Canada, Columbia, Israel, Egypt, Nigeria, Indonesia, Oman, Ireland, Gambia, Slovakia and Venezuela addressed the gender pay gap and other manifestations of the exploitation of women workers, misogynist violence, and the global under-representation of women in government.
UK Minister for Women’s Affairs, Penny Mordaunt, welcomed the women parliamentarians to the House for the first-ever meeting of female MPs from every parliament in the world.
MK Aida Touma-Sliman, head of the Knesset Committee for the Advancement of the Status of Women and Gender Equality, spoke at the meeting about the issues that are being worked on in the parliamentary committee which she chairs in Israel.
In her speech, Touma-Sliman related to the conference participants her committee’s experience in working to represent women and advance their interests through parliamentary tools. She emphasized the importance of working in an integrative approach, “because parliamentary work must start from and be established on the ground by the work of the masses”.
She also spoke about the struggle in Israel against gender-based violence; the education of girls and young women; childcare and women’s health. “We must implement the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women; and within 12 years we must fully implement the UN’s SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), especially goal 5 related to gender equality, as well as UN Security Council resolution 1325,” she said, referring to rhe resolution passed in October 2000 urging all actors to increase the participation of women and incorporate gender perspectives in all United Nations peace and security efforts.
Leading Communist Party of Israel activist, MK Touma-Sliman is a prominent feminist activist, founder of the Women against Violence Association, and former editor of the communist daily, Arabic-language newspaper, Al-Ittihad. She is not only the first and only woman in Israel to have headed up a daily newspaper, but also the first woman elected to the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel.
Touma-Sliman is one of the most prominent feminists in the Arab-Palestinian national minority in Israel, and succeeded in advancing the legislation of three laws prior to being elected to the Knesset: a law regarding family courts; one raising the minimum permitted age of marriage for girls from 17 to 18; and yet another encouraging the presence of women representatives in local and city councils.