gideon saar speaks 298.
(photo credit: Ori Porat)
The women's movement has lost a "great friend" to progressive rights, declared dozens of prominent women's groups Tuesday, as MK Gideon Sa'ar (Likud) stepped down as chairman of the Committee for the Advancement of Women.
Sa'ar, the first male ever to chair the committee, managed to advance more laws than any other chairman in the committee's history. He was replaced by MK Leah Shemtov (Israel Beiteinu) as part of the regular rotation of the committee chairmanship.
"I have never before seen a legislator who was more committed to passing his bills through the plenum, often stalking my office to secure my support for one thing or another," joked Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik.
Eight female MKs, representing nearly every party in the Knesset, attended Sa'ar's going-away meeting Tuesday to end his year-and-a-half stint as chairman. They all expressed enthusiasm for the nonpartisan coalition they had formed to advance women's issues.
"Since Sa'ar took over the chairmanship of this committee, it has risen in stature, and women's issues have a new place on the agenda set by the Knesset. This committee and the women - and now men - who work for gender equality will always cross partisan lines," said MK Nadia Hilou (Labor).
MK Amira Dotan (Kadima) said Sa'ar had succeeded in uniting MKs from across the political spectrum by appealing to their sense of progressive politics.
Sa'ar, who will continue to serve as a member of the committee, said he had never understood how low the glass ceiling was or how deep the bias ran against women in Israel.
"The work that this committee has done became central to the Knesset's agenda. I have striven for this not just because I want a modern or progressive society, but because I want to create the type of society where I can raise my daughters," said Sa'ar, who brought his oldest daughter to his swearing-in ceremony as committee chairman last year.
During his time as chairman, Sa'ar succeeded in bringing high-level figures of government to the committee, such as the prime minister, defense minister and IDF chief of General Staff.
He also advanced more than 28 pieces of legislature on issues such as extending maternity leave, easing restrictions on women filing for restraining orders, and protecting women during divorce proceedings.
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