Female Knesset Members 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
A law aimed at permanently freezing the retirement age for women at 62 was
initially approved Monday by the Welfare, Labor and Health Committee, chaired by
MK Haim Katz (Likud).
The law, which was presented by Katz, together with
several MKs from across the political spectrum, will reverse previous
legislation whereby the age of retirement for women is set to increase
automatically to 64 at the start of next year, and make it more difficult for
the Finance Ministry to gradually increase it to 67 over the coming years as has
“Exactly at this time of social protest, the Finance
Ministry wants to hurt thousands of women for no reason at all,” commented Katz
during the committee’s first hearing of the Knesset’s winter session. The
meeting was attended by lawmakers supporting the bill, as well as various
social-rights groups representing women.
“The country’s economic
situation is excellent, the pension funds are balanced, but the treasury still
wants to push this through,” continued Katz, who plans to bring the bill for a
first reading next week.
Research released Sunday by women’s rights
organization Naamat shows that 58 percent of women aged 60-64 do not work and
are simply waiting for their official state pensions to kick in. If the plan to
increase the age of retirement for women goes through then many will be forced
to take menial, low-paying jobs to support themselves.
Since the treasury
first announced in June that it planned to bring the women’s retirement age
in-line with men, women’s rights groups have been lobbying against the
Their arguments stem from what is perceived as major gender
inequalities prevalent in the workforce, which have yet to be addressed in any
substantial sense by the government.
They also point out that throughout
their lives, women are more likely to work in poorly-paid
“Working women do not enjoy equality in the workforce, yet
suddenly when it comes to their pension we are willing to make things equal,”
commented Galon, who has been vocal alongside other MKs such as Dalia Itzik
(Kadima), Zehava Gal-On (Meretz) and Tzippi Hotovely (Likud) against making this
He added: “Most women work in professions such as teachers,
nurses and cleaners. They are entitled to start their rest
Following the meeting, representatives of Naamat told The
Jerusalem Post that they were anxious that this law be pushed through the formal
process as quickly as possible in order to make sure that the retirement age
does not increase automatically this coming January.
The storm over this
controversial move has been brewing since March, when Finance Minister Yuval
Steinitz appointed a special committee to research whether it was appropriate
and practical to have women retire later.
The committee concluded that
the age should be increased gradually over the next 15 years, with retirement
age reaching 64 by 2017; and then 67, the same as men, by 2026.
the criticisms from women’s groups, the treasury has defended its
recommendations by pointing out that many other countries, like Israel, are
members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and
have begun a similar process based on the rationale that the period a person
receives a pension is continually growing, and therefore there is a need to find
resources to support that extra time.