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Imagine How Far Israeli Olympic Athletes Could Have Come Were There Equality Here

© Zhukovsky |

The medallions and achievements of the Israeli women's team are no less than miraculous, solely achieved thanks to the willpower of determined athletes, whose achievements mark a horizon for young women.

Sharon Abraham-Weiss

Over a week after it began, it is already clear that the women's teams in Israel are among the success stories of the Tokyo Olympics. One after the next, they enter the arena confidently, with determination, and break records. Women and girls for whom nothing is impossible, and whose achievements inspire countless more young women.

The gap between the gender reality in Israel, and the meteoric success of those same athletes, is no less than astonishing against the background of years of budgetary discrimination in which women receive a mere fraction of the money allocated to sports. When it comes to public support, women, who make up half of the population, enjoy only a quarter of all annual government support for adult sports associations, and merely one-sixth of all government support for youth sports activities.

The women's premier league soccer teams have had to repeatedly turn to the High Court of Justice to receive basic budgets that would enable the league to continue to operate. The budgetary discrimination against women’s sports is not only reflected in certain fields, but also impacts an entire generation’s sense of hope. It is reflected in the absence of equal opportunities for girls to look up to sports heroines and to follow in their footsteps. Moreover, due to the connection between participating in sports and strengthening self-confidence and leadership skills, this budget discrimination harms women’s chances of being full partners in society.

Our Olympic athletes live in a reality where the length of their pants is measured at the entrance to school; certain parliamentary parties in their country do not permit the election of women; advertisements with pictures of women are vandalized with graffiti; girls' sports activities are a rare commodity, requiring strong parents and lengthy journeys; and the High Court recently supported gender-segregated studies, which have already been proven to exclude and discriminate against women.

In this reality, the medallions and achievements of the Israeli women's team are no less than miraculous, solely achieved due to the willpower of determined athletes. These achievements offer hope for young women—the height, distance, and daring to which they may aspire. They also signal to us, as a society, what further achievements we can accomplish in a reality where there is equitable allocation of resources towards women and girls in sports; with a broad offering of girls’ sports activities, women coaches, instructors, managers, and athletes, whom girls may look up to and aspire toward becoming.


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