19% increase in number of women turning to welfare in recent years, study shows

Report focuses on the period between 2004 and 2011 to check the progress of women in eight areas of life.

Woman weeping, crying, tear drop 521 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Woman weeping, crying, tear drop 521
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Welfare services treated 19 percent more women in 2011 than in 2004, according to a report the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem released on Wednesday.
The report, which focused on the period between 2004 and 2011, aimed to check the progress of women in eight areas of life – work, education, health, poverty, violence, political representation, center-periphery relations and Arab society – in order to evaluate the level of gender inequality in Israel.
The figures show that 49.6% of women participated in the workforce in 2004, and in 2011 the number stood at 52.6%. For men, participation was measured at 60.6% in 2004 and 62.3% in 2011.
In terms of average income per hour of work, in 2011 women earned on average only 83% of what men earned, a gap of about NIS 9.
The study also found that women in Israel are poorer than men. In 2011, 20.3% of women over the age of 18 were considered poor compared to 18.8% of men, and women received 1.2 times more income support from the National Insurance Institute than men.
Moreover, the number of women who said that the reason they only work part-time is because of their role as housewives saw an increase in every year between 2004 and 2011, reaching 80,000 women in 2011. In comparison, only 1,400 men indicated the same reason for only working part-time.
In addition, the percentage of women employed in hi-tech companies dropped in 2011 compared to 2010, and out of all of the industry’s employees – some 271,307 people – only 34.06% are women.
As far as violence against women is concerned, the report showed that there is an increase in the number of new requests for assistance at centers dedicated to victims of sexual assault.
When comparing women in the center of the country to those in the periphery, it was found that overall, women’s situations are better in the center. Nevertheless, in 2010, while women in the periphery earned about 65% of men’s wages, the women in the center only earned 61%.
Professor at the Institute Hannah Herzog said in a statement that the report “reveals significant data on Israeli society, including the existing gender biases.”
“Throughout the years, the floor rises but the ceiling too is soaring, so the gap [between men and women] is maintained,” she explained. “There seems to be improvement in certain areas for women but it usually occurs as part of a general improvement for the whole population.”
Hadas Ben-Eliyahu, a senior researcher who worked on the report, added that “it is in the obligation of the government to translate the situation reflected in the study into a work plan aimed at reducing gender disparities and improving the situation of women.”