8 Israeli women who are changing the world
In honor of International Women's Day, we salute the women who teach and inspire us every day.
At home or abroad, in their living rooms or in the board room, women around the world are doing more than challenging the status quo – they're downright shattering it. In observance of International Women's Day, we handpicked some of our most notable, admirable and unstoppable women from Israel who inspire, awaken and teach us all.
It's not every day that you get to turn your final project at college into a lifelong career. But if you're Danit Peleg, you can basically do anything. This gifted designer – based in Tel Aviv, Israel – has been applying her unique blend of couture and technology to the fashion industry since her time at Israel's prestigious Shenkar College of Engineering and Design. In 2017, she unveiled her original 3D-printed jacket for sale on her website, the first of its kind to be commercially available. It's the culmination of years of researching fabrics, patterns, printers and structures for her one-of-a-kind line, and it's earned her a world of acclaim and accolades.
"I really enjoyed the fact that I could create without intermediaries. I could design my own textiles and manufacture my own clothes, all from my own home," Peleg said. "I think this is just the beginning. As technologies evolve, we will soon be all printing our own clothes at home."
When she wasn't spearheading a fashion revolution, the 30-year-old Peleg also found time to appear on From The Grapevine's "Our Friend from Israel" podcast, which you can listen to here:
After surviving the Chernobyl nuclear disaster as a baby, Inna Braverman made it her life's mission to find a new source of energy. She launched Eco Wave Power, a company that has figured out a way to take the energy from ocean waves and convert it into electricity. Her drive, passion and clever thinking have made her a celebrity. She's given a TED Talk and was named to Wired Magazine's list of “Females Changing the World." CNN chose her for their "Tomorrow's Hero" series and she was named one of the world’s “100 Makers and Mavericks." And along with Oprah and Michelle Obama, she was named one of the most influential women of the 21st century.
"Passion is the greatest renewable energy source," she told us. "If you have passion I think you can achieve anything."
Like Peleg above, Braverman also appeared as a guest on our podcast:
She hasn't won a Nobel Prize or earned a Ph.D., but we would be remiss if we didn't include Wonder Woman herself – Gal Gadot, the Israel-born former Miss Israel and onetime law student who skyrocketed to A-list Hollywood status – on our list of notable Israeli women. Gadot, a mother of two girls, has made a concerted effort to use her relatively newfound fame for positive purposes – whether it's visiting sick children in the hospital or encouraging her 34 million Instagram followers to donate to relief efforts in Australia after the devastating bushfires there.
She's also consistently mindful of the impact she has on the environment, and acknowledges the seriousness of climate change. "This is our home," the 34-year-old Gadot said. "And in the same way that we care and treat our homes, we should take care of our planet. ... We do Meatless Mondays, we recycle, we go to the supermarket with our own bags ... we try to do whatever we can."
As a shapeshifter in the new wave of Israeli tech startups, Orit Hashay has been working in the sector for more than a decade, having founded the wedding-planning site mit4mit.com, the business review site Ramkol.co.il, and most recently Brayola, which uses Big Data to help women find the perfect bra.
“Brayola became the first online lingerie shop to match women with bras based on their personal sizes, tastes and styles,” Hashay told TNW.
In 2012, Hashay was named one of the Top 50 Most Influential Women in Israel.
“I love to solve real problems that women face, making the world a happier place,” she said.
As the founder of an international humanitarian aid agency with 1,200 volunteers under her watch, Gal Lusky takes particular pride in being a life-saving force in the face of disaster. When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, Lusky and a team of 22 volunteers from Israel quickly flew to the flood-ravaged city. They joined up with local authorities to offer help with search and rescue, medical aid and trauma relief.
Lusky launched Israeli Flying Aid in 2005. They've been on the ground in Tanzania, where local superstitions surrounding albino children have led to them being kidnapped. They're helping at shelters there to provide the kids with better protection. They have just purchased land in a country in North Africa to build an orphanage for abandoned children. They're planning for it to house 200 kids, from newborns to 3-year-olds. And they recently returned from a trip to Chad, where they delivered much-needed supplies to orphanages and refugee camps.
"It's not a thing you plan," Lusky said. "It's just the life you live."
How can we better stick to our New Year's resolutions? What's the best way to cope with deadlines? What's the best way to convince someone to give to charity? Why do good people sometimes do bad things? It's this wide breadth of topics that has made Professor Ayelet Fishbach's psychology classes some of the most popular at the University of Chicago's business school. Fishbach, a social scientist who researches and analyzes human behavior, published a study in 2016 finding that eating similar foods, whether it's a snack during an investment meeting or a meal at a labor negotiation, promotes trust and closeness between strangers.
"People tend to think that they use logic to make decisions, and they are largely unaware that food preferences can influence their thinking," Fishbach said. "On a very basic level, food can be used strategically to help people work together and build trust."
Her body of work earned Fishbach a visiting fellowship at Yale University's school of management, and this past summer she was named a co-recipient of the Career Trajectory Award by the Society for Experimental Social Psychology.
Israeli scientist Ada E. Yonath was working at Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science in the 1970s when she started mapping the structure of ribosomes, parts of cells that copy genetic code. To examine the structures on an atomic level, she used x-ray crystallography, a method that she pursued even though many scientists doubted it. Her new mapping helped scientists make better antibiotics, and her discovery landed her the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2009.
"People always talk about the implication and applications of a process, but for me, the goal is purely about knowledge," said the Jerusalem-born Yonath. "Knowledge can become practical today, in 20 years, or in 500 years. Ask Newton. He didn't know there would be space research based on his accident with the apple."
When she was 20, Sivan Ya'ari took a trip to Madagascar, and the trajectory of her life changed from there. She developed a passion for the people of Africa, millions of whom lived with no electricity or clean water.
After earning her master's degree in International Energy Management from Columbia University, Ya'ari returned to the continent, installing the first solar system in a Tanzanian village. In 2008, she launched Innovation: Africa, a nonprofit organization that now operates in eight African countries – Tanzania, Malawi, Uganda, Senegal, Ethiopia, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa. Among other innovations, the group builds much-needed medical clinics, installs computers in classrooms and powers solar refrigerators to properly store vaccines and other medicine. To date, they've installed solar power in 133 villages.
"It makes me happier when I'm in the villages," she told us. "That's where I feel best. Seeing the joy in the faces of the children and the hope in the eyes of the mothers, it's so rewarding."
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