Breaking Barriers: Women empowering women for greater success

Orna Avidan - Chairwoman of Tel-Aviv District
May 19, 2023

The need for more women in key positions, the challenges women face in advancing compared to men, and the existence of “glass ceilings” are frequently discussed topics. As women, we often find it more difficult to reach senior positions, despite being equally, if not more, talented than men. It is also true that men often maintain power dynamics in their favor.

However, today I want to address a less popular and perhaps uncomfortable topic. I want to talk about women and how we often fail to encourage and support each other adequately. We often underestimate our abilities and don’t push each other forward enough.

My name is Orna Avidan. I am married to Gadi, a mother to Rani, Yoav, and Amir, and a grandmother to Luca. Since last April, I have been serving as the chairman of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa region in the Histadrut. The region consists of around 140,000 unionized workers in 230 different worker committees. I have a bachelor’s and master’s degree in education, and I worked in various positions in the Tel Aviv municipality for 32 years.

I started my career in informal education, working in community centers and the youth movement department. Later, I transitioned to the secondary education department and also managed the kindergartens.

For the past ten years, I held the significant position of Secretary General of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality Employees’ Organization. I am the first woman to be elected to this position and also the first woman to chair the Histadrut-Yaffa Tel Aviv District.

Throughout my career, I have encountered many women and managers who did not prioritize the advancement of women enough. This is not about affirmative action but about recognizing that women should and can move into senior positions. Perhaps because we are still working to correct a world primarily dominated by men, we may feel that when another woman succeeds, she is somehow “taking” a place that could be ours. We need to understand and remind ourselves constantly that women have the same rights, abilities, and status as men. There is no reason why we shouldn’t have equal representation in senior positions, considering we make up 51% of society.

In my experience, women sometimes need to be bolder and more courageous to progress and believe in our own success. Part of our success lies in our ability to receive encouragement from women working alongside us and learn to encourage others.

I assume that many women who manage other women are reading this section. As managers, it is necessary and important to frequently and genuinely praise the women (and men) who work with us. This support is crucial on a personal, organizational, and social level.

I invite you to reflect on how often you have sincerely praised your colleagues in the past year. I’m not referring to compliments about appearances or kind words when a colleague gets promoted. I’m talking about an ongoing process of encouragement, providing support during difficult times, and genuinely celebrating each other’s successes. And I don’t mean just your best friend in the office; I mean finding joy when another woman succeeds or advances.

Let’s take meaningful action and support each other wholeheartedly.

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