MKs search for plan to close gender gaps in all sectors

Rivlin backs Knesset-sponsored report on status of women.

woman thinking 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
woman thinking 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Lawmakers on Tuesday discussed ways to address the fact that women remain underrepresented in business, military and government sectors of society. Two Knesset committees held meetings Tuesday designed to help close these gender gaps. During a hearing of the Committee on the Status of Women, MKs and a crowd of women activists were pleased to hear that Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin had thrown his support behind a Knesset-sponsored report, to be completed early next year, on the status of women in Israel. A similar report was released by the Israel Women's Network earlier this year showing vast disparities between the number of men and women in various positions throughout the country. MK Orit Zuaretz (Kadima) said Tuesday that she hoped recommendations from the future Knesset report would serve as guideposts for future legislation and ministerial policy. "This is like a [stepping] stone that we'll put on the land to follow other stones in our parliamentary work," Zuaretz told The Jerusalem Post following the hearing. "One of the things that drives members of parliament is publicity, and if we are going to publish at the end of the [parliamentary] year the names of the Knesset members who promote laws for equality and laws for promoting women in Israeli society, it will help encourage them to be partners," she added. Zuaretz condemned recent comments reportedly from IDF Chief Rabbi Avichai Ronsky, who told a conference of religious female soldiers that "a priori, women should not serve in the army." Zuaretz plans to attend an additional committee meeting Wednesday concerning the comments and the broader gender issues in the military. "It's a dark point of view, a very primitive point of view, and I'm very disappointed that an officer in the army wearing a uniform is talking like this," Zuaretz said of Ronsky. Members of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee also discussed the status of women at a hearing on Tuesday. There are no women within the top ranks of the military, and only two female brigadier-generals. "I would like to see more women decide to extend their military service as professional officers for longer periods," MK Nahman Shai (Kadima) told the Post following the committee hearing. "There were some encouraging figures that more women are being promoted than in the past. [However,] there are some positions that they cannot penetrate yet." However, Shai fell short of endorsing a proposal by Likud MK Miri Regev that would require at least one general position in the army to be designated for a woman. "There's a special effort to promote women, but again, it should be done only on a professional basis - that's the only criteria that I can see," Shai said.