Government Policies Were Criticized in Women’s March in Israel and Türkiye
Bilge Ece Zeyrek
Middle East and Human Rights Researcher
Global Human Rights Defence
March 8, International Women's Day (IWD), is a day when women raise their demands for equality, invite the authorities to action, and celebrate the achievements of women. In this year’s IWD, women and activists around the world organized various protest events to expose the inequality experienced by women, and demonstrated their demands on many issues, such as gender equality and an end to gender-based violence. In addition to the problems that the women's movement has addressed for centuries, women have shown resistance to government oppression and gender-based discrimination. Government policies were criticized in women’s day protests in Israel and Türkiye as well.
Israel has been witnessing the largest street protests in the country's history, opposing the proposed judicial overhaul that would limit the power of courts. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims that the changes will restore balance between the branches of government, while opponents argue that they pose a threat to democracy.  On International Women's Day, women participated in demonstrations by forming human chains at various locations throughout the country. They wore red and held signs with slogans such as "Harming women's rights - not on our watch" to protest against the government's planned judicial overhaul and its potential impact on women's rights.  Referring to Margaret Atwood's novel The Handmaid's Tale, which is based on a dystopian dictatorship in which women are oppressed, the protesters dressed in red and voiced their fears that Israel might move in a similar political direction if the independence of the judiciary is damaged. 
The political environment in Türkiye has also been very active as the presidential and parliamentary elections approach. Two years have passed since Türkiye’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention, and the government has continued carrying out policies and discourse perpetuating gender inequality. The opposition, which has put forward a joint candidate against Erdogan, has not made firm promises about women's rights, and has been silent on returning to the Istanbul Convention. In this political atmosphere, the protesters chanted slogans such as "government resign", "we are not afraid, we do not obey" and "freedom" in the 21st Feminist Night March in Istanbul.  It seems that the opposition must take the issue of returning to the Istanbul convention more seriously, in order to gain women’s support in the upcoming elections.
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 Thousands of women draw human ‘red line’ against judicial overhaul. (2023, March 9). Times of Israel
 Israel: Thousands of women form human chain for democracy. (2023, March 8). Breaking Latest News.
 Turkish police fire pepper spray after International Women’s Day protest in Istanbul. (2023, March 9). CNN.