'Emergency’ meeting against women’s retirement age jump

Ten MKs gathered to protest raising of retirement age; Dozens of activists wear red to protest Finance Ministry recommendation.

By
July 13, 2011 03:19
3 minute read.
Female Knesset Members

Female Knesset Members 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

Ten female MKs, including two ministers, and dozens of female activists gathered in the Knesset on Tuesday to protest a Finance Ministry recommendation to increase the age of retirement for women from 62 to 67.

Female MKs from Likud, Kadima, Israel Beiteinu, Meretz and Independence, as well as Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, male MKs from Meretz and UTJ’s Moshe Gafni, attended the event.

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Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat and Agriculture Minister Orit Noked were also in attendance.

Activists packed the conference room and dressed in red to symbolize a “red line” that had been crossed, after the government suggested increasing the retirement age as a way to save money.

MK Faina Kirschenbaum (Israel Beiteinu), who organized the “emergency conference” with MK Zahava Gal- On (Meretz), was met with a round of applause after saying: “We won’t allow the retirement age to go up.

“Maybe we should be like eskimos, that put the elderly on an iceberg and send them into the sea, but we’re not that kind of society,” Kirschenbaum said. “People see their pension as the light at the end of the tunnel; we can’t push that light even further away. Why should people who can’t afford to eat have to wait so many years for a pension?” she asked.

"It is no coincidence that there are women here from the coalition and the opposition, as well as ministers,” MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) said. “This is not a political battle. Every woman in the Knesset is part of this battle.”

Hotovely pointed out that women, on average, make lower salaries than men, and said that women have “double the workload,” because they are “balancing work at home and taking care of children with employment in an open market.” The Likud MK proposed a bill earlier this week to keep the retirement age at 62, which garnered signatures from 28 MKs.

Livnat said “inequality is an inseparable part of a woman’s job. We live in an unequal world.

“True, there’s progress, but it’s slow and inefficient,” she said.

Livnat said that, while women would not be able to receive a pension until age 67, according to the new recommendation, many women are unable to find work at that age, and are left unemployed.

“Only half of women over age 50 work full time, as opposed to 88 percent of men,” she explained.

Livnat also said the Ministerial Committee for the Status of Women has discussed this topic, and that Noked and Minister Without Portfolio Bennie Begin support her in opposing a higher retirement age.

Gafni, chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee, would not say his opinion on the matter outright, but hinted strongly that, should it reach his committee, it would be unlikely to pass.

According to a coalition of women’s and human rights groups including Na’amat, Women’s International Zionist Organization, Mahut Center, Itach, the Israel Women’s Network, the Adva Center and the Association of Civil Rights in Israel, women still constitute the weakest sector in the workforce and those over the age of 50 face serious problems finding jobs that pay more than minimum wage. Forcing them to wait longer until they can retire means they will have to spend more years in low-earning jobs.

Ruth Eglash contributed to this report.


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