The Peres Center for Peace and Innovation honored 14 women from across Israeli society and industry with the second annual Medal of Distinction ahead of the annual International Women’s Day, marked on March 8.
The Medal of Distinction recognizes women from a diverse range of backgrounds and communities who are leaders in their fields and serve as role models for women and girls everywhere. The award will be granted annually on International Women’s Day to honor outstanding women making significant contributions in their fields, the Peres Center said.
Founded in 1996 by late Israeli Prime Minister Simon Peres, The Peres Center is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organization dedicated towards developing impactful programs that highlight Israeli innovation and nurture peaceful coexistence. The Medal of Distinction recognizes women from a diverse range of backgrounds and communities who are leaders in their fields and serve as role models for women and girls everywhere.
Actress Tzipi Shavit; writer and journalist Carmela Menashe; the first transgender soccer referee in Israel Sapir Berman; judoka Yael Arad; journalist Efrat Lichter; Professor Marcelle Machluf; entrepreneurs Hany Sabag and Amira Jabar Qassem; unicorn CEO Eynat Guez; Dr. Roni Postan-Koren; Professor Sarab Abu-Rabia-Queder; entrepreneur Racheli Tedessa Malkai; social entrepreneur Gal Luski; and Ayalon Highways directorate chairwoman Maxine Fassberg also received awards.
This year, there was also a Future Medal of Distinction awarded to a young woman and role model – Aviya Ana Brooks, an eleventh-grade high school student who has written about animal therapy, anxiety, and activism for Israeli publication Makor Rishon.
The event was hosted by Efrat Duvdevani, director-general of the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation.
Speaking at the event, Duvdevani said, “These inspiring women have opened doors and created opportunities for other women and are working towards gender equality, diversity, and inclusion.”
Duvdevani also referred to the current events in Ukraine adding, “It is hard to see the sights and hear the voices coming to us from Central Europe. It is hard to believe that leaders in our time are using violence and aggression. At the Peres Center, we know this does not have to be the case, and we have been working for more than a quarter of a century to promote peace, innovation, and coexistence. We fully believe that the more women we will see in positions of leadership, the more humanity will find creative solutions to resolve disputes and conflicts.”
The 14 recipients are:
Tzipi Shavit – a leading actress in children’s entertainment in Israel who first emerged in the industry in the 1960s.
Carmela Menashe – the journalist and military reporter on IDF issues for Channel 11. She lit a torch at the Independence Day ceremony and has won the Sokolow and EMET prizes. She edits and presents a current affairs show on Israel’s Reshet Bet radio.
Sapir Berman – Israeli soccer referee who made history in May 2021 after she officiated her first game in the Israeli Premier League since coming out as transgender. She refereed the Premier League game between Hapoel Haifa and Beitar Jerusalem.
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Yael Arad – head of the commercial division of ViacomCBS Israel and President of the Olympic Committee of Israel. She won Israel’s first Olympic medal in Judo in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
Eynat Guez – founding partner and CEO of Papaya Global, a major workforce management platform. She was the first Israeli female to found a company that became a unicorn, valued at over $1 billion.
Efrat Lichter – a groundbreaking journalist who covered the war in Syria and was the first Israeli to enter the city of Raqqa. She covered the war in Iraq against ISIS and today she is bravely and fearlessly covering the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Maxine Fassberg – chairwoman of the Ayalon Highways Directorate. She served as Vice President of Intel Corporation and was President of Intel Israel where she led the merger with Israeli unicorn company, Mobileye.
Professor Marcelle Machluf – an Israeli scientist and dean of the faculty of biotechnology & food engineering at the Technion, who, among other things, is developing means of treating cancer and engineering tissue.
Hany Sabag and Amira Jabar Qassem- two leading entrepreneurs who joined forces and established a unique high-tech venture that simulates job interviews to encourage Haredim and Arabs to enter the job market.
Dr. Roni Postan-Koren – founding partner of the Shavot – Leadership for Young Women NGO. She is a heart specialist at Sheba Hospital and founder of the JLMed, a center for medical innovation at the Hebrew University.
Professor Sarab Abu-Rabia-Queder – the first Bedouin professor in Israel who teaches at Ben-Gurion University’s Faculty of Education. On top of being a feminist activist, she is also an advocate for the Bedouin community in the Negev and one of the founders of the Arab Women’s Organizations Forum in the Negev.
Racheli Tedessa Malkai – entrepreneur, founder, and chairwoman of the Empowering Ethiopian Women NGO, which encourages higher education and the creation of businesses in the Ethiopian community and assists Ethiopian women in a multitude of areas in their lives.
Gal Luski – founder and chairwoman of Israel Flying Aid (IFA), a non-profit organization that specializes in assisting populations in the aftermath of disasters and conflicts in countries that lack diplomatic relations with Israel.