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Women Rights in Israel

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, PM Benjamin Netanyahu, attended a meeting yesterday with women in the senior ranks of the Civil Service.

Among those attending the meeting were: Deputy Minister for the Advancement of Women Gila Gamliel, Prime Minister’s Office Authority for the Advancement of the Status of Women Vered Swaid, Negev and Galilee Development Ministry Director-General Orna Heisman, Education Ministry Director-General Dalit Stauber, Culture and Sports Ministry Director-General Orly Froman and Environmental Protection Ministry Alona Sheffer-Karo.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said: “You reached the senior positions that you hold thanks to your abilities. The advancement of women must not be delayed because they are women. You have made very major contributions to the achievements of the Government of Israel. The results that you have brought, more than anything else, break the stigmas. This is a lengthy process that takes time. I suggest that you do not go for representation that is just for show because it could have an opposite effect. Continue bringing about results.”

woman rights in IsraelDeputy Minister Gamliel said: “The idea is to incorporate the gender perspective in public discourse, in legislation, in the policies of government and civil agencies, and in research priorities. Women must be full partners in every sphere. Their voices must be heard and their views must be presented on every issue – socio-economic, diplomatic, economic and security. In modern society, fateful decisions cannot be made for the public without full partnership – in discussions and debates, and in decision-making – between the sexes.”

Prime Minister’s Office Director-General Harel Locker said: “Integrating women into the labour market is very important, as is incorporating gender-based thinking in decision- and policy-making. This can contribute to economic growth since in the current situation, half of our human capital is not being fully utilized.”

All women in Israel, regardless of ethnicity or religion, enjoy broad freedoms, rights and protections, including the right to vote, dress as they wish, say what they wish and pursue any career. Women are protected from discrimination by law. Indeed, Israel’s Declaration of Independence grants “all Israel’s inhabitants equality of social and political rights irrespective of religion, race or gender.”

Three years after declaring statehood in 1948, Israel passed legislation guaranteeing women the right to live in dignity, including providing equality in work, education, health and social welfare

Today, Israel also initiates and implements programs to improve the status of women globally. For the past decade, Israel’s MASHAV program — a Center for International Cooperation, run by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs — has educated thousands of women from around the world, including Palestinians, emphasizing microenterprise development and women’s leadership.

During its 65 years of existence, Israeli society has undertaken many steps to advance women’s status. Women have progressed in multiple spheres of Israeli life, such as politics, economics, education, the domestic realm and the military.

Since Israel’s establishment in 1948, dozens of women have served in the Knesset (Israel’s parliament), and have held leadership roles in politics

Ten women have served as cabinet ministers, including Prime Minister Golda Meir, Israel’s first – and the world’s third – female prime minister;

Israeli-Arab women actively participate in political life. Nadia Hilou was the second Israeli-Arab woman to serve in the Knesset when she took office in 2006

At present, 26 Knesset members are women

Israeli law protects the right of women to equal opportunity in the workplace. Since the 1950s, women’s opportunities in the workplace have been secured by legislation guaranteeing maternity leave allowance paid by the National Insurance Institute, protection against dismissal during pregnancy and affordable childcare facilities. In 1964, legislation was passed mandating that women receive pay equal to that of men.

Today, women are making great strides in the Israeli workforce. Though Israeli women still haven’t achieved equal pay, women have risen to the CEO level in several Israeli Fortune 500 companies. Examples include Dalia Narkiss, CEO of Israel’s largest employment agency, Manpower; and Galia Maor, CEO of leading commercial bank Bank Leumi.

Israeli government and non-governmental initiatives consistently strive to ensure full equality for women.

The Equal Retirement Age Law, passed in 1987, and the Equal Employment Opportunities law, passed in 1988;

Three-month paid maternity leave for all women guaranteed by law;

Amendments to the Equal Rights Law, added in 2000, which mandated representation by women at all levels in public entities.

In the Israeli national trade union (Histadrut), women are represented at each level. The Histadrut has adopted a resolution requiring that 30 percent of its leadership must be women.

In addition, Israel’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry has established a unit to encourage women to open small- and medium-sized businesses. The unit has aided Bedouin women in Israel in setting up small businesses, and is providing them the planning and marketing skills necessary to maximize their success. The Negev Institute for Strategies and Development has also instituted a project in southern Israel to provide Bedouin women with vocational, entrepreneurial and managerial training, combined with financial support and counselling.

The Israeli educational system treats boys and girls equally. No measurable educational gap exists between male and female students through high school.

Israel’s Ministry of Education has adopted a policy of gender equality that requires schools to:

Provide and promote equal opportunities for members of both sexes;

Introduce programs designed to encourage a culture of gender equality;

Maintain a climate of respect, growth and confidence regarding gender.

In addition, Israel’s universities and colleges maintain committees to monitor women’s progress, and have an advisor to the university president on issues related to advancing the status of women.

The National Service Law, passed in 1953, mandated two years of compulsory military service for men and women alike. Today, conscription extends to all able-bodied men and women once they are 18. At present, men are required to serve three years and women are required to serve two years.

Approximately three years ago, 60 percent of army professions were open to women. Today, that number is closer to 80 percent;

Fewer than 10 years ago, about 40 percent of all women soldiers were in clerical positions; today, that has decreased to 20 percent.

Since 1999, following an Israeli Supreme Court decision, women have been admitted to train as Air Force pilots or navigators.

In 2001, the Israeli Air Force Academy graduated its first female combat pilot.

Almost 26 percent of IDF officers are women.

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