Two days before International Women’s Day, the Ministerial Legislation Committee in it’s Sunday meeting failed to pass a series of bills aimed at promoting women’s issues.

It is customary for the committee to debate such bills prior to International Women’s Day and in recent years, significant bills were passed helping women gain workplace equality and strengthening enforcement against sex offenders, this year however, four out of the six proposed bills fell and voting on the two others was postponed by two months.

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Among the bills that were voted down or postponed was a bill to end abortion approval committees, a bill proposing the appointment of women’s issues consultants in public bodies and a bill reducing the minimum work hours of single mothers.

One bill that did pass and will benefit women is a bill calling to freeze the automatic increase of women’s pension age from 62 to 64, pending the formation of a professional committee to look in to the matter.

Shirley Shlomiuk- Babai legal counsel for the Israel Women’s Network, a women’s rights lobby, said that the fact that none of the bills proposed in conjunction with International Women’s Day passed, was highly regrettable and was a step backwards from the success of previous years.

“Women in Israel are discriminated against and we are not seeing enough being done to change that, both by legislation of new laws to protect their rights or in enforcement of existing laws,” said Shlomiuk –Babai. “In past years we saw a concerted effort to pass bills and laws, as well as reach pro-women cabinet decisions, during the period before and after International Women’s Day. Unfortunately this year that didn’t happen.”

 Shlomiuk –Babai said that her organization would continue to attend Knesset committee meetings and lobby hard for women’s rights year round and that she hoped to see more concrete support from the elected officials in the future.

“For our part we will do everything to advance our agenda and hope that the government doesn’t torpedo it,” she said.

In a non-related vote, the ministers approved a bill proposed by Habayit Hayehudi MK Uri Orbach, prohibiting discrimination based on place of residence.

The bill aims to rectify a situation where goods and services providers refuse to deliver their wares to certain destinations, like settlements in the West Bank, or if they do , charge extra for it.

The bill states that it will be determined to be discrimination when a company refuses to provide a service to a given place and agrees to provide service to another place located an equal distance away.

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