The Subcommittee for Academic Development and Policies of the Council for Higher Education on Tuesday approved a proposal to lengthen maternity leave for female students.

The amendment will enable female students to be absent from classes due to pregnancy, childbirth and fertility treatments for six weeks or for 30 percent of their courses, whichever is longer.

To date, female students were allowed to be absent from classes in which attendance is mandatory for up to 30 percent of the course, roughly four weeks, in these cases.

In comparison, IDF reservists are entitled to indefinite absence from classes.

“As men should not be punished for their reserve service, women should not be penalized for being mothers,” said MK Michal Rozin (Meretz).

“We want to live in a society where women are not forced to choose between education and raising a family; true equality is equality which considers the differences and needs of each sex, whether it’s reserve service and whether it is birth,” said Rozin.

Rozin, who proposed the amendment, and the National Union of Israeli Students presented it to the Council for Higher Education at the request of Education Minister Shai Piron.

“It amends the rules of student rights from 2012, set out under the Student Rights Law, and is based on the Employment of Women Law, which entitles women to six weeks maternity leave from work.

“In our society double standards exist, women enjoy equality before the law, but in many cases the laws and regulations create indirect discrimination.

It is inconceivable that the studies of pregnant women will be harmed if they are absent for two months of school, but the guys from reserves will know how to complete the missed materials.

Today academia falls in line – and does not allow for rules that include a distortion and discrimination against women,” said Ori Reshtick, chairman of the National Union of Israeli Students.

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