Israeli Court allows gender-separate course in Civil Service

The ruling relates to the “Influencers” pilot program set up by the Civil Service designed to help integrate haredi graduates into the Civil Service for employment in the public sector.

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August 7, 2018 18:25
2 minute read.
INCREASED INTEGRATION of Haredim into the workforce has resulted in a record-low poverty rate in the

INCREASED INTEGRATION of Haredim into the workforce has resulted in a record-low poverty rate in the Haredi sector.. (photo credit: DARREN WHITESIDE / REUTERS)

The state can run gender-separate training courses for haredi (ultra-Orthodox) men and women in the Civil Service the Jerusalem District Labor Court has ruled in a final decision, although strict conditions will be required to justify such separate classes.

The ruling is highly significant given the national importance attached to integrating haredi men and women into the work force on the one hand and the accompanying concerns of religious-based gender separation in the public domain, in particular academic institutions, on the other.

The ruling relates to the “Influencers” pilot program set up by the Civil Service designed to help integrate haredi graduates into the Civil Service for employment in government ministries, national bodies and local government.

The tender initially published by the Civil Service advertised that the course would be gender separate, with one course which began in January this year for men and one course beginning in October this year for women.

The Israel Women’s Network filed a petition against the state tender for the course before it commenced, claiming that gender separation was inherently discriminatory and prohibited by Israeli employment law.

The petition was initially accepted, but frozen by a higher court, and eventually returned to the Jerusalem District Labor Court.

In Monday’s decision, the court ruled that if in the future the Civil Service wishes to conduct gender-separate courses the tender must include courses for both men and women, and those courses must run in parallel.

In addition, the state must also provide research and polling information proving that gender separation is necessary to attract haredi recruits, and an legal opinion about the legality of the tender from a deputy attorney-general within 45 days of the beginning of the course.

According to sources familiar with the issue, the state is already conducting such research and similar research conducted for the Council for Higher Education demonstrated that a majority of haredi men and women stated they would not study in mixed-gender classes.

The court also ruled that the current courses can continue, although the men’s course has already finished. Some 20 haredi men graduated the course, while 25 haredi women will begin their course in September.

Israel Women’s Network director, attorney Michal Gera Margaliot, said in response to the ruling that from the outset the organization had supported the state’s efforts to integrate haredim into the work force.

“But the path is not, and cannot be, gender separation, which perpetuates and deepens discrimination,” she said. “Because of the current law suit we expect that the Civil Service will make the right conclusions and integrate with greater strength haredi men and women without separation.”

Attorney Avraham Yustman of the Kemach Foundation, an organization which helps haredim integrate into the work force and a partner organization in the Influencers program, said that it was clear that the court now understands that there is a place for gender separate courses.

“It is an obligation to respect the lifestyle of the other and those who are different,” said Yustman. “Separation is not discrimination and certainly does not harm equality. The court’s decision and in essence the end of this process gives a tail wind for the continuation of the future generation of outstanding haredi individuals who will integrate into the Civil Service for the good of the all citizens. I sincerely hope that the Israel Women’s Network will engage in truly advancing [the interests] of women and will stop its attempt to reeducate the haredi community.”


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