‘Stroller marchers’ present demands to Knesset panel

Stroller protest organizers called for an extension of paid pregnancy leave, regulation of basic products, such as baby formula and diapers.

Hotovely 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Hotovely 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The organizers of last week’s “stroller march” presented their demands to the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women, in an emergency session on Tuesday to discuss the cost of parenting.
Stroller protest organizers Noa Kliger, Yael Barda and Liat Vardi called for an extension of paid pregnancy leave, free public transportation for children riding with a parent, and regulation of basic products, such as baby formula and diapers.
Committee Chairwoman MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) said that she would discuss two issues with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. First, she said she would continue to push for free early childhood education, as her committee has been doing for two years.
Second, Hotovely said it is essential that at least one female minister be included in Netanyahu’s committee on the cost of living, which is meant to address the demands of demonstrators around the country.
Only three out of 29 ministers are women – Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat, Agriculture Minister Orit Noked, and Absorption Minister Sofa Landver.
“The situation in which education for toddlers costs twice as much as college tuition is absurd,” Hotovely said.
“We must bring about this revolution, while quickly building a large number of daycare centers so the supply meets the demand. The public struggle has only begun – we cannot give up,” she added.
Hotovely also stated that the Education Ministry should be responsible for nurseries, not the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry.
Education Ministry representative Dalit Stauber said the ministry would like to take the reins.
“Free early childhood education is not unattainable,” said MK Orly Levy (Israel Beiteinu). Levy explained that NIS 2.4 billion is currently invested in regulation and subsidization of daycare centers and nurseries, and estimated another NIS 3 billion is necessary to solve the current problem.
She added that the subsidy should go directly to parents, and not be given in the form of tax breaks for early-childhood education centers.
According to Talia Livni, chairwoman of the women’s organization Naamat which runs daycare centers, “thousands of mothers do not work” because daycare for their children is too expensive.
“The state must help,” she said. “When a couple gets married, they need a promise from the state that they can work, but they are not getting that promise.”