Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaks as she receives The Genesis Prize's Lifetime Achievement award.
(photo credit: GENESIS PRIZE FOUNDATION)
Leaders of Israeli women’s rights organizations, members of Israel’s Supreme Court and other prominent officials have vowed to intensify efforts to close the gender gap in Israel following a three-day visit to the country by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
“Justice Ginsburg’s visit reminded us just how important it is to emphasize women’s rights and equality as we deal with the other pressing challenges faced by the Israeli society,” said outgoing Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky.
Ginsburg was in Israel with The Genesis Prize Foundation, which this year awarded her its inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award. Sharansky helped establish the Genesis Prize in 2014 and serves as chair of its selection committee.
Justice Ginsburg’s visit followed on the heels of The Genesis Prize Foundation’s announcements of grant competitions in Israel and North America, which will see up to $3 million in funds being allocated to support women’s rights organizations. The foundation intends to make grants to organizations working on such issues as enhancing socioeconomic opportunities for women, prevention of violence, promoting gender equality among minority groups in Israel, fighting against harassment in Jewish communal workspaces and encouraging girls and young women to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).
The issue of the gender gap in Israel was heightened recently, following the ranking of Israel by the World Economic Forum as 44 out of 144 countries in its Global Gender Gap Report, representing a drop of nine places from a decade ago.
The report attributes Israel’s decline in the rankings to a persistent 40% wage gap between men and women, low levels of women’s participation in politics and senior government posts, and an insufficient representation in top management roles in the private sector.
“Such a low ranking for such a progressive country as Israel is unacceptable.
As is the trend,” said Stan Polovets, co-founder and chairman of The Genesis Prize Foundation.
During her visit to Israel – the first in 23 years – Ginsburg held meetings with leaders of Israeli women’s NGOs, including leaders of some Arab women’s organizations. Joining some of these meetings were two other women’s leaders also brought to Israel by The Genesis Prize Foundation: Jane Lute, Special Coordinator on Improving the United Nations Response to Sexual Exploitation, and Sunitha Krishnan, a globally-known activist and fighter against sex trafficking in India.
“In the 70 years of existence, Israel achieved very significant improvements in the status of women, yet so much more remains to be done before the gender gap is closed,” said Professor Aliza Shenhar, the first woman to serve as the head of a university in Israel. “Therefore, the opportunity to meet Justice Ginsburg was so important to all of us. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is an inspiration and a role model whose visit encouraged us to continue our work until we achieve truly equal status for men and women.”
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