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Israeli leader reflects on Global Women’s Leadership Convening

Rina Bar-Tal during a Global Women's Convening panel discussion.
Rina Bar-Tal during a Global Women's Convening panel discussion.
Photo by Rebecca Zenefski '10.

Beginning July 13 and continuing until July 20, the School of Business and Leadership at St. Catherine University has hosted women leaders from Israel, Jordan and Minnesota in an innovative gathering called Global Women’s Leadership Convening: Women in Public Life.

For organizers, the goal is to collect the wisdom of women leaders from different contexts and apply this knowledge to develop new models to foster women’s leadership in government and other public arenas.

Rina Bar-Tal is one of the distinguished participants and a key partner in planning the Convening. She is chair of the Israel Women’s Network, a non-partisan organization that works to promote the status of women and equality between the sexes in Israel. She answered questions during a break.

Q. What is the greatest challenge to women’s leadership in Israel?

A. I think we in Israel live in a very macho society where because of the army and because of the long-lasting situation of war, where we worry about our future and our children’s future every day, women’s issues are not a major topic.

Thus, we women have to make it one. We have to convince our society and our cultures that if we want to continue living in a democratic society—and we do—women have to be part of the decision-making process. Women have to be partners in all walks of life of Israeli society for a better kind of society.

Q. What has been most remarkable to you about the Global Women’s Leadership Convening?

A. For me, I will definitely say that the ability to meet with the people that come from Jordan, my neighboring environment. They live closer to me than many of you live to your friends and relatives distance-wise, yet for many reasons, we never get to meet one another.

This ability for us to meet at a neutral place like St. Kate’s, a place where we have total security, where we can be seen together, we can talk together, we can laugh together, we can be angry together, we can share together, makes this Convening different and very special for me.

Q. What are some possible outcomes of this Convening?

A. I think we’ll have to continue learning from one another and learning both the differences and the similarities, and to see within the many restrictions we have—because we’re a very special group—if we can find a project or two that we could do together.

Q. What is your advice to young women who wish to continue your work in Israel and around the world?

A. Have a voice. Speak up. Don’t take anything for granted. It’s okay to be self-assured, but also be a little humble. If you don’t want to run for anything and you don’t want to compete for anything, that’s okay, but seek out the ones that do, and network with them and help them.

More about the event

Global Women’s Leadership Convening: Women in Public Life is the result of a collaborative effort featuring the vision of State Sen. Sandy Pappas (DFL-Minn.) and Paula J. King, Ph.D., dean of the School of Business and Leadership at St. Catherine University.

For more information about the outcomes from the Global Women’s Leadership Convening, please e-mail or call Sue Kuncio at 651-690-6711.

July 18, 2011 by Elizabeth Otto

See also: Business, Leadership