Israel could soon have a new government ministry and accompanying minister
dedicated entirely to improving the situation of the country’s women and
promoting their equality in all spheres of society, Likud MK Gila Gamliel said
In an exclusive interview with The Jerusalem Post, Gamliel, who
currently serves as deputy minister for the Advancement of Young People,
Students and Women, and is the first person to hold such a position focusing on
women’s issues, said her appointment was “the first step” toward creating a
full-blown Women’s Affairs Ministry.RELATED:Op-ed: Equal is not always fairWomen's retirement bill jumps first hurdle
“There is no doubt that women’s
standing in society has improved greatly, but we still have a lot more to do to
get to the point where there is total equality,” said Gamliel, who three months
ago successfully pushed the government to take up an active role in the recently
created United Nations Women.
“We have to do much more to achieve
equality,” she said, adding, “We should not have to wait another 60 years to
make this happen. Creating a ministry that will be responsible for policies
relating to women is one solution to improving the situation.”
who has been the deputy minister for women’s issues for more than two years,
said it’s just a matter of time before Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu creates
such a ministry, which, she hopes, will in turn increase the female presence in
the country’s power base.
Over the past two years, Gamliel has
commissioned numerous research studies on the status of women in politics and
legislature. She has noted that compared to other nations, women here make up
only small percentages of those in positions of power.
figures published by the UN, Israel ranks fairly poorly in the number of women
serving in parliament.
Currently, in countries such as Rwanda, Sweden and
South Africa, women hold close to or more than 50% of seats in the legislature.
In contrast, Israeli women account for only 19% in the Knesset.
addition, Gamliel pointed to the fact that out of 254 mayors and municipal
council heads countrywide, only six are female; and among the roughly 3,000 representatives on local city councils, only around 370 are
In the government itself, there are just three female ministers
and seven deputy ministers out of a total of 28.
“We are talking about a
very small percentage of women who are politically active and involved in making
the real decisions,” said Gamliel, adding that if we can “change that and
increase women’s representation and create a sisterhood network, then it will be
easier to get women out of the home and into the workplace. Then even more
opportunities will be created for them.”
However, she noted that
effecting such a change would mean challenging a cultural mindset to create work
environments that are more family-friendly.
Gamliel has already put
forward recommendations to the government that focus on family-friendly work
hours: allowing mothers in the civil service to work from home more or use
flexi-hours, assessing work based on output and not on actual hours put in, and
holding important meetings earlier in the day so working mothers can participate
“We need a complete change in mentality,” she said, adding that
stereotypes such as the mother staying home cooking and the father going out to
work were still images prevalent in school textbooks and programs for
Gamliel said she had also been researching other nations with
ministries for women, and some of the more prominent countries include New
Zealand, Austria and Turkey.
Ultimately, concluded Gamliel, “the decision
on whether to create a ministry for women must come from the prime minister, but
I believe we are heading in the right direction. I am pretty sure that the first
chance he has, he will take up this issue.”