Women are a resource that should not be wasted, MK Aliza Lavie, chairwoman of the Knesset Committee for the Advancement of the Status of Women and Gender Equality, said on Tuesday.

The Yesh Atid lawmaker spoke at a meeting on economic empowerment for women in honor of International Women’s Day.

The meeting, which was also held in memory of former minister Shulamit Aloni, who died on January 24, featured several high-profile speakers, including Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Finance Minister Yair Lapid, and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in a video message broadcast from the US.

“We had a mission to bring equality and we have not yet achieved it,” Netanyahu said. “Change is happening thanks to groundbreaking women in every area and framework. Female leaders show that things can be different.

“If you continue, one day we’ll need a Committee for the Advancement of the Status of Men,” the prime minister quipped.

Edelstein pointed out changes in the topics the committee addresses.

“Since I was a member of this committee in the 15th Knesset [1999-2003], the agenda changed. We battled the use of the awful term ‘murder of passion.’ Today, the discussion is about female executives. Israel’s economic leadership is rife with talented, influential women,” he said.

The Shaked Committee preparing the haredi conscription bill also discussed women on Tuesday, voting not to lengthen female soldiers’ service (currently 24 months) by four months until 2016.

Over the next two years, the IDF will examine its personnel needs in light of the decision to shorten men’s service (currently 36 months) by four months and to conscript ultra-Orthodox men. If the defense minister finds a need to lengthen women’s service, he will have to write regulations to be brought to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee for approval.

If the Defense Ministry does not submit regulations to the committee by 2016, women’s service will not be extended.

Lapid touted his own efforts to hire women as director-general of his ministry and as heads of departments.

“I believe with all my heart that in any place where women work, the work is done better,” he said.

Lavie spoke out against the 30 percent wage gap between men and women.

“This isn’t a civilized country; this can’t happen; this is a crime,” she declared. “It cannot be that with all of the laws and understanding and awareness and accessible information and education we still have major gaps in comparison to other OECD countries.

“Women are an asset to society and wasting that asset is a loss for society,” she said.

The Yesh Atid MK credited Aloni with raising awareness about women’s issues in Israel and saying that “women’s rights are human rights.”

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