Areas of Activity

Health and living in dignity

About the Project

Led by Anat Horovitz and Anna Dessa, this project began operating within “Isha L’Isha – Haifa Feminist Center” in May 2012. It is aimed at promoting the quality of life of women with invisible physical and chronic diseases and their families. Coming from a gendered perspective, the project works to raise awareness of the need to promote the rights of these women in different institutions such as the Health Ministry and the National Insurance Institute of Israel (Bituah Leumi).

Based on the data available today, women make up between 70 and 80 per cent of patients with invisible diseases. These illnesses have different effects and symptoms that are undetectable, like chronic fatigue, pain in various places in the body, and damage to different organs such as the digestive system, the skin, and reproductive organs. They also include issues such as concentration disorders, depression, dizziness, noise sensitivity, etc. Additionally, invisible diseases are very difficult to diagnose. The diagnosis process takes a long time due to their rarity, complexity and lack of sufficient knowledge. They are progressive and characterized by unexpected outbreaks, and usually cannot be treated or cured. Invisible diseases include inflammation of the thyroid gland, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, autoimmune diseases, endometriosis, fibromyalgia, and Ménière’s disease. Due to their characteristics, these diseases directly impact the quality of life of the women who suffer from them, limiting their everyday functioning in the family, at work, as parents and as partners.


The “invisible diseases” problem consists of several levels that require parallel intervention: There is almost no knowledge about the scope of the problem and its components in Israel and around the world; There’s lack of awareness to invisible diseases and their consequences in the healthcare system, the welfare system including the Israeli National Insurance Institute, and the general public; Women patients face difficulties in exercising their rights in the health system and the Israeli National Insurance Institute; The life experiences of women who suffer from these diseases are not properly acknowledged by both the welfare system, the medical establishment, as well as by her close and direct social  circles. Consequently, these women experience loneliness, despair, and physical and emotional crises.


*These data were extracted from life stories of Jewish Israeli women who suffer from invisible diseases. We aim at forming collaborations to promotes this issue among Arab patients as well, acknowledging their specific needs and worldview.

Prior to this project, there was no action taken in Israel on the issue of invisible diseases as a gendered problem. This makes it a pioneering project in the context of feminism and invisible diseases in Israel.


The project’s vision:

Invisible diseases will receive institutional and budgetary recognition from the Israeli National Insurance Institute and health care system, leading to improvements in the quality of life and financial wellbeing of women suffering from invisible diseases.


Conference – No Longer Invisible – Personal, Medical and Institutional Aspects of Invisible Illnesses, Tel Aviv, July 10, 2019

Watch the parliamentary debate on the subject, May 6, 2019

Conference - Non-transparent - Personal, Medical and Institutional Aspects in Dealing with Unrecognized Diseases, Tel Aviv, 6/5/19
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