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by Jenny David
Jan. 13—Israel's cabinet has approved a national plan to promote greater gender equality in employment, government and society at large. The plan aims to change government policy and corporate culture, promote related legislation and raise public awareness of sexual harassment in the workplace.
The cabinet action brings the country one step closer to implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1325 that “reaffirms the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and in post-conflict reconstruction” and “stresses the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security,” according to a Dec. 14 statement from the Prime Minister's Office.
As part of the initiative, the Authority for the Advancement of the Status of Women, located in the Prime Minister's Office, will be renamed the Authority to Promote Gender Equality. The authority's director will chair a new interministerial task force charged with formulating a five-year action plan to “implement gender equality in decisionmaking processes, provide equal opportunities for women in all aspects of life and prevent violence against women.”
The authority will also be responsible for providing gender awareness training for ministry directors general and other senior public and private sector officials.
“This is another achievement for the gender revolution” and “will allow the continued promotion of gender equality in both the medium and long term,” said Vered Swid, the authority's director.
Starting this year, all government ministers will be required to annually report their efforts to promote gender equality to the authority. Each ministry must also immediately select at least one area for review “through a gender lens” and adjust its 2015 work plan accordingly.
If a program aims to strengthen outlying areas and disadvantaged groups by developing economic infrastructure, for instance, one of its tasks would be to expand the number of companies owned by minority women.
The 10-page government decision “heralds a shift from strategies designed to promote the status of women to one aimed at achieving gender equality,” said Naomi Chazan, dean of the School of Government and Society at the Academic College of Tel-Aviv-Yaffo, noting that Israel lags behind most advanced democracies in terms of gender mainstreaming.
“By defining the persistence of gender gaps as a key social issue to be eradicated, the sole burden of instigating change is no longer placed on women,” Chazan said.
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For more information on Israeli HR law and regulation, see the Israel primer.
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