The Authority for the Advancement of the Status of Women has launched a campaign calling on fathers to accompany their children to school this year.

“In the 21st century, the responsibility for raising children must fall jointly on the mothers and fathers, and fathers must take more responsibility and mothers need to release some of the responsibility,” Vered Swid, head of the authority, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

According to Swid, the purpose of the campaign is to gradually implement a more egalitarian parenting approach in Israeli society. It aims to see both parents as responsible for raising their children and to promote equal parenting opportunities in the workplace.

“One of the reasons why there are gaps between women and men is the division of tasks within the family, with women taking upon themselves the majority of the responsibilities,” explained Swid.

In August, the authority contacted companies and organizations throughout the country, including the Manufacturers Association and the Association of Chambers of Commerce, calling on employers to grant time off for employees – both mothers and fathers – wishing to bring their children to school this week.

She recalled how, as mayor of Netanya in 1998, she went to schools to celebrate the opening of the school year and was shocked to see that only roughly 10 percent of fathers had accompanied their children to school.

“We see more mothers outside of schools taking and picking up their kids, and I expect that it should be 50-50,” said Swid. “A father who takes an active role in taking his kid to school and in his or her education provides a positive role model for his children.”

One way to accomplish this goal, she said, is through the development of more supportive work environments, or “supportive family organizations,” upholding these principles and values.

“The term ‘supportive family organization’ refers to the work environment or work activity that encourages balance between professional life and private life, in order to relieve and reduce stress caused by having to deal simultaneously with working and taking care of the family,” said Swid.

The campaign also seeks to raise awareness in the workplace and lead to the creation of “parent positions” as opposed to “mother positions,” in which mothers work shorter hours in order to pick up their children from school.

Often the wage gap between the genders is reflected in the fact that men will work overtime, with up to a 150 percent additional salary increase for overtime hours, while women are forced to leave early to pick up their children, Swid said.

“I am convinced that when we reach equal parenting, the gaps in the workforce between men and women will diminish and we will finally crack the glass ceiling,” she said.

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