SHIRLEY SHLOMIUK BABAI 58.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
A few days ago, a young pregnant woman called the Israel Women’s Network’s hot
line. This was her first pregnancy and she was happy, but also very confused due
to what was happening at her workplace since she informed her
She had been marked as a rising star, assigned her own project
and even received a raise, but suddenly everything changed.
announcement quickly brought anger and disaffection, and even a fear of being
“I feel trapped in a situation which has no solution,” she said.
“At some point everyone wants to be a mother; why does it have to entail such a
big price? Why did my workplace stop seeing me as a valued employee and start
seeing me as a troublesome, unwanted mother?” This young woman’s story isn’t
unusual, and highlights the difficulties and obstacles women still face in the
To the outside observer, the situation doesn’t seem that bad.
More than 70 percent of women who are also mothers – even when they have more
than one child – work. It’s an impressive statistic, compared with other Western
To understand that there is actually a problem, it’s necessary
to analyze the data in depth.
About half of working women are in one of
six traditional ‘women’s field’ with relatively low salaries, such as education,
nursing, administration, sales and housekeeping.
About 20% work only part
The data on dismissals is alarming. About 40% of working women
report sexual harassment at their workplace. Relatively few reach high-ranking
positions. But the most disturbing data deals with the gap between men’s and
Women earn a lot less then men, even when they work the
same job. The Central Bureau of Statistics’ data show that women on average earn
66% of men’s wages. When wage per hour is compared, women earn 17% less than men
for the same job. Over the past 20 years, the gap diminished by only 7%, which
doesn’t bode well for the future.
Yes, we have come a long way since the
establishment of the state but the perception of the working woman as a
secondary provider – that her main responsibility is for the house and children
– hasn’t changed.
The 1996 law mandating equal wages for women and men
working the same job is not sufficiently enforced, and few women act on it to
TO CHANGE this reality, we must first put an end to
stereotypes and examine female and male workers objectively, based on abilities
and the quality of their work, and compensate accordingly.
employees must stand up for their rights as equals. They should not settle for
For more than 26 years, the Israel Women’s Network has
been promoting women’s rights. It has set the reduction of the gap between
genders as a main goal for the coming year.
As a first step, IWN is
seeking an essential change in the equal-wage law, providing significant
compensation for a woman who was discriminated against, criminal sanctions for
the offending employer, and a mandatory provision of information regarding wages
for women and men in the private and public sectors in a way which facilitate
lawsuits on this issue. This will provide for a law with teeth.
addition, IWN will establish a “center for wage gaps” that will be the address
for every woman who feels she’s being discriminated against. It will examine her
complaint and help her file suit for suitable compensation.
IWN is also
planning to contact the Prime Minister’s Office on International Women’s Day
with a demand that he take immediate steps to reduce the unreasonable 36% gap
between men and women in the public sector, according to the Bank of Israel
Maybe by the time the daughter of the young woman who turned to
IWN’s hot line a few days ago takes her place in the workforce, the change will
have happened.The writer is manager of the legal department at the
Israel Women’s Network.