Diane Markowicz Memorial Lecture on Gender and Human Rights
What are the most pressing challenges in the quest for women’s human rights? Who are the most innovative thinkers taking on these issues? How can their work inform the struggle for gender equality around the world?
The Lecture Series features internationally renowned scholars, judges and activists discussing ways of negotiating the tensions between gender equality and religious or cultural norms.
April 19, 2023
7:30-9 p.m. ET
Hybrid: Online and In-Person in the Liberman-Miller Lecture Hall at Brandeis University
What is the role of gender in the rise of populist illiberal regimes? The case of Israel provides a timely opportunity to examine this question. Israel’s November 2022 elections mark an imminent danger of regime change: the newly elected government openly seeks to control the judiciary and minimize safeguards on civil rights, aiming to increase the depth and scope of religious Jewish law.
The lecture will analyze the gendered dimensions of the new government’s game plan. Professor Tirosh will examine the proposed legal changes and their impact on women and LGBTQ+ legal status, seeking to understand their function and significance in the broader context of regime change. Is gender just a reflection of the larger picture, a microcosm that illustrates the general political trends? Or, is it a primary motivation, a central axis of the regime’s entire raison d’etre? Focusing on the recently growing institutionalization of sex segregation and modesty in the public sphere, Tirosh suggests epistemic violence as a helpful theoretical paradigm for comprehending the mode of operation of contemporary illiberal regimes towards women.
Dr. Yofi Tirosh is an Associate Professor and Vice Dean at the Tel Aviv University Faculty of Law, the former Dean of the Sapir Academic College School of Law, and a Research Fellow at Jerusalem's Shalom Hartman Institute. An expert on antidiscrimination law, Tirosh’s work has been published in leading international journals, exploring the mutual relationship of law and culture through themes such as the body in law, food law, law’s language, and judicial rhetoric. Her recent work focuses on the relationship between gender equality and religion in liberal democracies. She served as a Visiting Professor at Georgetown Law Center and Queen’s University Faculty of Law in Ontario and as a visiting researcher at New York University, Humboldt University of Berlin, and more. Tirosh earned her law degree at the Hebrew University and her doctoral dissertation at the University of Michigan Law School and clerked for the Israeli Supreme Court. Alongside her academic work, Tirosh is an award-winning public advocate of civil and women’s rights and a regular legal commentator on national media. In 2020, she was listed among Israel’s 100 most influential people by Haaretz’s financial magazine.
This event is free and open to the public.
Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg
Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg is an award-winning author and writer. She was named by Newsweek and The Daily Beast as one of ten “rabbis to watch,” as one of 21 “faith leaders to watch” by the Center for American Progress, by The Forward as one of the top 50 most influential women rabbis, has been a Washington Post Sunday crossword clue (83 Down) and called a “wunderkind of Jewish feminism” by Publishers Weekly. Her newest book, on applying an ancient framework of repentance and repair to the contemporary public square, to institutions, and to national policy is due from Beacon Press in 2022. She serves as Scholar in Residence at the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW).
Rachel AdlerRachel Adler is the David Ellenson Professor of Modern Jewish Thought at the Los Angeles campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR). She was one of the first theologian/ethicists to integrate feminist perspectives and concerns into the interpretation of Jewish texts and the renewal of Jewish law and ethics. Her essay "The Jew Who Wasn't There," first published in 1971, is generally considered the first piece of Jewish feminist theology/ethics. She is the author of Engendering Judaism, the first work by a female theologian to win the National Jewish Book Award in the category of Jewish Thought. Engendering Judaism is also available in a Hebrew translation. In Engendering Judaism, Adler proposed a new Jewish legal model for Jewish marriage rooted in partnership law rather than property law. Some Jews use this ceremony rather than the traditional one. She has published more than 50 articles on issues involving Judaism and Gender, many of them reprinted in collections.
Long before the #MeToo movement, Professor Catharine MacKinnon pioneered the legal claim for sexual harassment and, with Andrea Dworkin, created ordinances recognizing pornography as a civil rights violation and proposed the Swedish model for abolishing prostitution. The Supreme Court of Canada has largely accepted her approaches to equality, pornography and hate speech, which have been influential internationally as well.
Roya Hakakian, 2017 HBI Scholar-in-Residence, is a widely published author, poet, journalist and documentary filmmaker. Today Hakakian is outspoken on current issues in the Middle East, most recently commenting on the uprisings in Iran and the actions of Iranian feminist women.
Karima Bennoune is a Professor of International Law at the University of California — Davis, School of Law. She is the author of “Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism” and is the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights.
Fareda Banda is a Professor of Law at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London and a Global Professor of Law at NYU. She is the author of “Women, Law and Human Rights: An African Perspective,” the definitive text on this issue. She has consulted to the United Nations on laws that discriminate against women. Her academic work focuses on the human rights of women in multiple international settings.
Anat Hoffman is the chairwoman of Women of the Wall and the executive director of the Israel Religious Action Center, the legal and advocacy arm of the Reform Movement in Israel. She has brought a series of successful legal challenges to sex segregation in public life in Israel.
Professor Lahav is a Professor of Law at Boston University School of Law. During the course of her legal career, Pnina Lahav has published nearly 50 journal articles and three books, including the critically acclaimed “Judgment in Jerusalem: Chief Justice Simon Agranat and the Zionist Century.” Winner of Israel’s Seltner Award (1998) and the Gratz College Centennial Book Award (1998). Professor Lahav is the recipient of the BUSL Melton Prize for excellence in teaching in 2011. She has taught at Hebrew University, Tel Aviv University, The Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Herzlia, Oxford University and Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3 in Lyon, France.
Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law at Emory Law School, associated professor in the Emory College of Arts and Sciences, and Senior Fellow of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion of Emory University. An internationally recognized scholar of Islam and human rights and human rights in cross-cultural perspectives, Professor An-Na’im teaches courses in international law, comparative law, human rights and Islamic law. His research interests include constitutionalism in Islamic and African countries, secularism, and Islam and politics.
Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella
Justice Abella's theories on gender equality have influenced courts and legislatures around the world. The first Jewish woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada, she was previously a family court justice of the Court of Appeal. Justice Abella has chaired the Ontario Labour Relations Board, the Ontario Law Reform Commission and the Royal Commission on Equality in Employment. Her opinion in the landmark case of Bruker v. Markowitz (2008) recognized the rights of Jewish wives to sue for damages in circumstances where their husbands use their power under Jewish law to deny them divorce.
Dr. Shirin Ebadi and Jody Williams
In 2006, Ebadi and Williams founded the Nobel Women’s Intiative to use the visibility and prestige of the Nobel prize to promote, spotlight and amplify the work of women’s rights activists, researchers, and organizations worldwide.