Personal Narrative as Shaping the Activist Identity of Religious Women in Israel

Ayelet Makaros*, Edith Blit-Cohen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article is based on the life stories of 14 religious activist women in Israel. It aims to understand the extent to which these women’s stories and their childhood and maturation experiences shaped their activist identity. In this qualitative, critical-feminist study, the women activists’ life stories were examined using semi-structured interviews. The findings indicate that personal or social events perceived as significant in the women’s lives as children and adolescents acted as catalysts for activism. These events were central to their personal narratives and became embedded in the women’s activist identity, as they came to perceive activism as the most “natural” response to life challenges. Specifically, two types of events were identified: events in the individual-family-community sphere and events in the public-national sphere. They affected the interviewees and led them to act, whether out of antagonism and anger at a perceived injustice, or out of a sense of power and constructive thought. This study contributes to the literature by highlighting the new and unique phenomenon of religious women who, despite being educated to accept and comply with the conventions of a patriarchal society, choose to make their voice heard and lead sociocultural changes in public spaces. The findings emphasize the personal-political nexus and provide insight into the activists’ motives for fighting for their values and for committing to long-term activity in the public sphere—despite considerable personal costs.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number13
JournalJournal of International Women's Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022


  • Life story
  • Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox women in Israel
  • Personal narrative
  • Women activists


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