In March of 1948, a month and a half prior to declaring Israel’s independence, the nation’s founding father, David Ben-Gurion, sat down to answer a letter. It was written by a coalition of women’s rights organizations, and it urged the aged leader to do everything in his power to appoint a woman to his future cabinet.

“I agree wholeheartedly with your request,” Ben-Gurion wrote in reply. “I consider it a privilege for us to appoint a woman to the cabinet, which means I consider it our duty, and I was deeply saddened that my own party did not resolve to appoint one of its female members to the government. It’s our honor-bound duty not only to our mothers, our sisters, our wives and our daughters, who carry the same burden as we do to build the nation and shape its character, but also to the wide world and to our neighbors. Including a woman in the cabinet is akin to flying the flag of human liberty and equality. And the demand should come not only from women’s rights organizations, but, just as much, from men.” Here is the letter, released this week by the Ministry of Defense’s archives:

Amen, brother. And a happy International Women’s Day to all.