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Equality crisis: OECD report is a burning red light | Israel Hayom


Highlights: David Frum: The OECD report, which placed Israel last in the gender equality index, is a wake-up call that must be dealt with. He says the question the report examined from the outset was how large the gap is in the different countries. Frum says men earn more than women for the same job, but hey – women live longer and are better educated. He writes: "This figure shouts even more in light of the current government's intention to promote legislation that would expand the jurisdiction of the rabbinical courts"

This week, for the first time in my life, I felt caught in a trap between love for the country and fear for my daughters' future The OECD report, which placed Israel last in the gender equality index, is a wake-up call that must be dealt with Since the government doesn't really have anyone to talk to, we remain, women and men who want a moral and progressive society, and are not willing to give up the country that suddenly everyone sees

But so did the Japanese

When I read the OECD report published this week, I was sure I would feel a punch in the stomach. For those who are not informed, the report ranks Israel at the bottom of the developed countries in the gender equality index, right in last place. At least we are not alone in this humiliating bottom - Japan is there with us, sharing the shame.

Despite the hurls of those who fight for women's rights – which are just whining, for example – the objective facts are that in 2023 there is not a single country in the world that has full equality. In all countries in the world, men earn more than women for the same job, men work less and hold most of the top jobs, but hey – women live longer and are better educated.

The question the report examined from the outset was how large the gap is in the different countries, with the existence of women as equals less implied by the very question. No expert would presume to ask whether there are countries where the gap does not exist at all, because any reasonable person knows that patriarchy still rules the whole world. There are places where it rules with a high hand, and there are those where it fades.

Israel, my love, we see you

The OECD Development Center measures discrimination against women in social institutions in 179 countries. It does this by examining legislation, social norms, the number of women in different professional and social positions, and more.

To determine each country's score, the researchers examine whether women and men have the same rights — for example, whether they have the same legal rights to vote and hold public and political office, whether they have the same access to courts, and whether women and men enjoy the same rights and opportunities in the workplace — whether in terms of maternity/paternity leave and parental leave or in terms of occupation choice. The report has been trusted by the OECD since 2009, with scores ranging from 0 to 100; 0 indicates non-discrimination and 100 indicates total discrimination.

Israel received the lowest score on discrimination in the family framework, which measures the extent to which women have equal rights with men in marital issues and issues related to the sharing of the family burden. In this area, we received a score of 40.9, while the OECD average is 14.2 and the global average is 37.8. In other words, the situation of Israeli women in terms of rights related to family law is poor not only relative to developed countries, but also to countries that are considered third world and are not members of the organization at all.

This figure shouts even more in light of the current government's intention to promote legislation that would expand the jurisdiction of the rabbinical courts. On this issue, at least according to the OECD, we really have nowhere to go anymore.

We like to be considered an advanced country when it pays us economically, politically and politically, but no politician can text the objective measures that examine the status of Israeli women with lip service. The statistics cannot be confused with someone else's accusations or false excuses. The grim reality of Israeli women is exposed, and the world sees us.

Compassionate parenting for the state

One of the things I promised myself when I became a mother was that I would never be angry at my girls for getting an unsatisfactory grade. That I will never reproach for not meeting achievements, but that I will be the one accompanying them along the way. I will always put the emphasis on the process, not just the outcome. I think I'm pretty much living up to that promise.

If they're frustrated because of a grade in school or where they ended up in a dance competition, we're talking about having control over their investment, perseverance, and willingness to learn and develop – but grades can change in random circumstances. The same approach I apply to my beloved country, so looking at the published data is not to fall into depression for having such a bad country, or to speak ill of policymakers.

The same compassion and understanding I show for young girls I am willing to show towards members of the government, even though the degree of responsibility I expect from them is much greater. The demand that they see this report as a wake-up call, a red light that must be dealt with quickly, is not only not exaggerated, but the most logical. The purpose of OECD data is not ranking for ranking's sake. This is not a reality show where the country that made it to the finals wins a prize. Its goal is to support policymaking, believing that policymakers in each country will work for change. A beautiful and very important faith, but also very naïve, at least when it comes to Israeli elected officials.

Until this moment, I have not read a single official response from any member of the government (maybe I missed it? feel free to correct me if I am wrong). May Golan's spokesman – Minister for the Advancement of the Status of Women, as you may recall – replied that "the minister is not being interviewed on the subject," preferring to refer to her tweet, which began with the words: "It's very funny that someone who was prime minister for 20 minutes, in rotation with a friend of his, who was another 20 minutes, tweets himself to know about a report that only relates to their period 100%! It's just amazing how stupid or hollow he thinks everyone's gosh." There is no doubt that the minister took seriously one of the most important documents recently published regarding the status of women.

Well, I must say that it's very funny that someone who was prime minister for 20 minutes in rotation with his friend who was another 20 minutes, tweets himself to know about a report that only relates to their time 100%!
It's just amazing how stupid or hollow he thinks everyone is.

And now on the merits,
I took office less than a month ago and at the same time - a budget...

— May Golan May Golan (@GolanMay) May 29, 2023

In fairness, it is important to note that Minister Golan took office only about a month ago. Of course, I don't blame the current government for all the data in the report, but its moves take us backwards. For example, the fact that there are almost no government ministers or female directors general in its ministries has significantly lowered Israel's score.

My heart aches

I am an Israeli mother. My parents immigrated here when I was 6 out of Zionism and ideals. I guided in a youth movement, served as an education officer in the IDF and taught the soldiers about love of country and loyalty. I have represented the country in lectures and conferences abroad, I am a working citizen and donor who pays a lot of money every month to the state, and I also contribute beyond those who need it - and now, for the first time in my life, I feel caught between love for the country and fear for my daughters' future. Does my love and loyalty to this place jeopardize my daughters' future? Right now, unfortunately, I can't say no.

Ever since the girls were born, I've lived with a sense of joy that they won't be immigrants. That they are the first generation on my family's side to be born here, and that this is where their children will be born. I was happy for them that we finally got home. Now I can't deny the fear that gnaws at me, that the country I'm telling them about is slipping through our fingers and becoming a country where the fact that you're a woman is a disadvantage, a starting point of economic inferiority and even a danger to your personal safety.

In recent months, the feelings have changed from anger and disappointment to pain. I stop being disappointed and angry, because I stop watching. My heart aches because the country that is my home is failing half its population. The policy of the State of Israel puts its feet on my daughters, my sister, my nieces, my friends, my mother, me – and you too.

Minister Golan. "Not being interviewed on the subject", photo: Kfir Ziv

I do everything so that my daughters will live in a country where being a woman is not a barrier to living a full life, but it is becoming harder and harder to hope that it will. I can no longer tell them that even if it is difficult, if you invest and make an effort in the end you will get the place you deserve, without feeling detached from reality. Since they were born, we have been working hard to educate them that they deserve respect, that they should speak up, that their voices should be appreciated and their choices respected, and I am deeply pained by the gap between our promises and the Israeli reality.

The Real Story

The State of Israel, as of June 2023, is telling my daughters a different story than what they learn at home. The processes that are happening here, the neglect of gender-based violence, the forgiveness of sex offenders, the blurring and erasure of women's faces in the public sphere, the paucity of women in management and state leadership positions – all these tell my daughters and yours, both implicitly and explicitly, that their dreams should be smaller, that their aspirations should be smaller, that it is better to have a quieter voice so that they do not arouse resistance. I can't stand by and let this story continue to intensify.

Gender inequality does not exist in a vacuum. It's not accidental. The elected officials, who lead legislation that discriminates against women, LGBT people and non-Jews, do not hide or are ashamed of the fact that they do not think that women or LGBT people deserve equal opportunities and fair representation.

Come on, men

This is not a women's struggle or that of women's organizations, it is the battle of all of us. And no less - yours: men, fathers, brothers, sons and spouses. Not because you have daughters, sisters or mothers, but because you too believe in the dignity and value inherent in every human being. We women need you to leverage your privileges to bring about the change we all need.

Artists - Don't agree to perform at an event where women artists are not allowed. Managers - Do not lend a hand to erasing talented women from key positions. Politicians – Don't agree to cooperate with parties that silence women's voices. Men, this is not a good request. You need us, because only a society based on equality is a healthy and growing society. Not for the sake of women – for the economic, social and political progress of us all.

Countries lacking gender equality face a variety of socio-economic problems stemming from the situation of women. In Afghanistan, for example, restricting women's access to education and their path to senior positions affects not only women's personal development, but also the overall development of the country. A world that's good for women is a world that's good for everyone. A nation that values its women is a prosperous nation. All studies prove unequivocally that countries where gender discrimination exists are more backward, and therefore this is in the interest of every citizen.

Stuck in Reverses

Our progress towards gender equality has not only stopped, it is going backwards. By the way, this is happening alongside the economic deterioration and the decline in personal security. It is no coincidence that all parameters are intertwined. The social and political forces that push us back are powerful because they have a formidable weapon: conservative politics that are currently in positions of power, and patriarchal traditions that are deeply rooted in our culture. It's not only frustrating, it's also scary.

The thought of my daughters growing up in a country that fails to recognize their worth, doesn't appreciate their potential, and whose elected officials shamelessly share their plans to exclude women from more and more spaces is a nightmare I never thought would come true. And to all the naïve people who chuckle and say, "But Israel supports and incentivizes women to have more children! Even giving grants!" – I answer that Israeli government policy at the moment reinforces traditional gender roles. This is not called promoting gender equality.

In 2018, Viktor Orban issued a decree to defunding gender studies programs in Hungary, stating that such studies are an ideology, not a science. And lo and behold, this week we were informed that Avi Maoz is returning to the education system, and will establish a system for monitoring content in schools and monitoring principals. The government allocated NIS 285 million for the National Identity Authority, which will implement this.

Avi Maoz opposes gender studies, and thinks that the supreme role of women is to marry and have children – but it's not just him. Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir emptied the "electronic handcuff" law that could save lives, and members of Religious Zionism demanded in coalition agreements that Israel not sign the Istanbul Convention, which combats violence against women, which was joined by more than 40 countries and could have taken Israel several steps further in protecting hundreds of thousands of women. The current government is almost devoid of women, the number of female directors general in government ministries is close to zero, and we are seeing more and more legitimacy and forgiveness towards deleting female characters from advertisements, informational leaflets and billboards.

Time to cheer up

However, as bleak as the situation may seem, I try to see the OECD report as a wake-up call, rather than a dead end. Let's use it not as a reason to wallow in despair, but as a catalyst for change. The low point can become a turning point if we just stop lying to ourselves that "it's going to be okay" without actively acting.

Severe inequality is not just an academic statistic, but a destructive reality that binds the potential of half the population. Eliminating women from positions of power through government policy, and capitulating to elements that seek to erase women from the public sphere, is unacceptable in a country that prides itself on being progressive and Western.

So let's talk about reform. There are some urgent reforms that do not receive proper attention because of the political situation, for example in education, in the health system, welfare and yes - also in the judicial system, but not the one that is proposed. No less urgent reform is the one related to the rights of 51 percent of the population: women.

We don't need to invent the wheel, but perhaps adopt the policies of countries that are somewhere up the table, far from the abyss we are currently in. In Norway, for example, quotas have been set for the proportion of women in management positions to which every company is committed. Those who worry about profits are invited to turn to the professional literature, and see that the conclusion of all researchers is that the more women there are at the senior level, the more stable, productive and profitable the company.

Not victims

One of the insights that helps me not to despair is the knowledge that there are countries that brought about change relatively quickly once the issue received proper attention. This change is not coincidental – we must please, deliberate, and understand the benefit that gender equality gives the state.

Don't stand idly by – spread the word and support the struggle and stories of women who oppose inequality. Don't call them "feminists," obsessive or controlling. And if it's not right for you to support - at least don't disturb. The struggle for gender equality is not a struggle against men, but a struggle for a moral and progressive society.

My sisters, women - even in this situation, it is important that we continue to stand tall and with our heads held high, and that we do not give up on this country yet. I remain optimistic, even in the face of the OECD's depressing table. I am encouraged by the thought that numbers, while important, are not everything. I still believe in the good and moral people who live here. I still believe there can be change. I have to believe, so that I can look Shiloh and Arbel in the eye and feel that I am not abandoning them to the whims of political activists, who surrender to interests instead of defending the citizens who elected them.

There is no excuse that the State of Israel, whose history is also soaked in the blood of brave fighting women who sacrificed themselves for it, is now stifling the dreams and future of its daughters. But we are not victims – we are pioneers of change, and we need all of you to join. Because we all deserve so much more than that.

Wrong? We'll fix it! If you find a mistake in the article, please share with us

Source: israelhayom

All news articles on 2023-06-01

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