COMMITTEE ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN
MARCH 25, 1998 , 12:30
Protocol -No 120
1998 .25COMMITTEE ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN - MARCH
ישיבת ועדה של הכנסת ה-14 מתאריך 25/03/1998
פגישה עם רעיית מזכ"ל האו"ם
Good afternoon and welcome to the Committee
on the Status of Women. The Chairperson of the committee, MK Yael Dayan
unfortunately is not in the country today, so she asked me to replace her. My name is
Noami Hasan,I am a Member of Knesset from the opposition, from the Meretz Party,
and I am deputy speaker of the Knesset, in other words Mrs. Tichon's husband is also
I would like to present Member of Knesset Marina Solodkin from the Israel. B'aliyah
party. She is going to, on A rotation basis, become chair of the committee in
November . Member of Knesset Alex Lubotski who is a member of the committee
from the Third Way Party, and he is a colleague at the university. He is a Professor of
Mathematics.I am a Political Scientist, but both of us are on unextended leave from
the university. Let me just present Dana Gordon who is the Director of the
Committee. The truth of the matter is, we work because of her, and she does not give
us a moment's time.
There are some representatives of women' s organizations. Daniela Bamburger is from
the Israel Women's Network who is a lobbyist and also a person who makes her way
to do the right things. Bat Sheva Strachner who is Director of the Committee on the
Status of Women in the Municipality of Tel Aviv. I think you know Mrs. Goldin and
Mrs. Tichon, so I don't have to introduce then. Simone Frankel from the Ministry of
Let me very briefly open and let us make this informal. You have suffered many
formal occasions, a and I will open with three minutes introduction, give the floor to
the MK Solodkin and MK Lubotski and then I suggest you ask us questions and we
will answer, if there is something that interests you and you are interested in hearing
Let me just say before on a totally personal basis, I am really delighted to host you here
today. I spent 25 years at the University and I feel this comparative politics, and quite
frankly I am an expert on African politics. I have written about 8 books on the subject,
but my favorite country where I have spent the most time is in Ghana, and I have
written two books on Ghanaian politics. I am even inyited to Ghana, which means
there must be something right about the books, I hope. So, I really have very breath
affinity and I also followed your career closely and it is very important for us to have
you here, because you have a very strong record of support of human rights and of
refugees and minorities. We-have been joined by MK Tamar Gujanski, one of the
veteran female members of the Knesset and a member of Hadash, also in the
opposition. So that is a group truly welcoming you in our midst.
Let me describe the work of the committee very briefly and I will allow the others to
talk as well. The Committee on the Status of Women was established as an adhoc
committee in the previous Knessets, that means the 13 th Knesset , 6 years ago, and at
the end of the previous Knesset we succeeded in turning it into a standing conimittee
of the Knesset. We have 15 members. We deal with all aspects of women's rights and
gender rights in the country. We sometimes have to struggle with other committees
who feel that this is within their domain as well.
Israel has all the problems that women in advanced industrialized countries have,
together with two additions. They are the regular well-known problems, .our problems
of women in education. I told you very briefly that we are number one in the world in
the proportion of women in our educated population, but we have glass sealing
problem in the Knesset there are only 9 members of 120 which comes out exactly
7.5%. Let me quickly add that is a 25% reduction over the first Knesset, which had
We have problems with women in the upper echelons of the civil service, of business,
the universities, etc. We are working very hard on it. We passed from legislation in
Israel, and I would say by and large our legislation is very progressive.
One of the key problems today in Israel is the problem of violence against women.
One of every 7 women is a battered woman. There is total consensus from the far
right to the far left on combating the problem against violence against women, and we
have made additions to our legislation, in order to make it quite clear that this kind of
behavior is totally unacceptable in our country.
The third key area, which we deal with on a regular basis, is women in the economy.
The women are 70% of the lowest income groups in the country, and the income
differential between women and men in Israel is approximately 30% in the same job
with the same background with the same seniority etc. So we are very concerned
about the economic situation of women and the feminization of poverty in Israel as
Israel has two unique features that many women in other countries do not have.
Number one. in Israel there is no separation of religion and state, and therefore, all
matters of personal status, mostly in marriage and divorce are in the hands of
monopolistic religious authority, who generally are not feminist, to put it mildly.
Secondly, women in Israel are conscripted into the army. There is compulsory military
service for women, but the terms of service are unequal and as a result there is severe
difficulties with gaining equality in the military and I would say also, achieving peace,
which may dispense with the need for a compulsory draft. In its entirety, one sees that
women, including Tama Gujanski and myself have been very active in the peace
movement. but I must say as well that there are women. on the right too.
my I gave this very brief familiar sketch, in order not to take time away from
colleagues. I would like to call on MK Solodkin. I will be a little bit tight with time,
so please, if each member of Knesset could deal with the issues that most interest her
or him, and we would allow Mrs. Annan to ask questions.
Dear lady. we are privileged to have you here. It
is a serious and struggling committee, because of the complexity of the Israeli and
Jewish life. We are fighting for foil equality, but also I think we have to cope with
Jewish values together with democratic trends in Israel. Our society is very complex.
I do understand that you saw that in the Plenary meeting in the greetings.-
I have to say what is important in the role of women, to find a golden path between the
left and the right, between the oriental Jewry and the German Jewry, Ashkenazi Jewry
who are here. Peace is a very important goal also for women who are very active in
the peace process. I have to say most active in the peace process. I myself am just a
correction in the informal peace process.
I have to say, I myself as representing the Israeli Democracy, because I am only 7 years
in the country. I came from the Soviet Union, we established there an immigrant party,
which is called Israel is on Ascension and I am here sitting in Knesset and trying to
give solutions to many problems, social, economic, State problems, problemsof peace,
and of course problems of women here. I came from the country where women
socially are more equal with men and I am helping my compatriots who came to Israel
to fmd their way in a new society.
Thank you very much Marina. Alex Lubotski,-
member of Knesset.
I want to join my friends with the welcome.
Actually I am also a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee who is meeting now
with your husband. I was invited to go but I did not go. You don't know why I did
not go, but I will tell you the secret why. I really wanted to welcome you, not only for
your position and your other position, but also for your connection as a niece of Raoul
Wallenberg. We all admire him, he is like a hero for us and we are all so grateful to
him for what he did for the Jewish people, and I think this was really a humanitarian
action of the first grade, and I think his name will be remembered forever in the
Talking about that, I want to take this opportunity to ask you for aaction. I know that
your family never lost the all to fmd Raoul Wallenberg. You still hope that maybe
someday you will see him, even after so many years. Therefore, you can appreciate
and identify with the problems of the families in Israel of the MIA, the soldiers who are
missing in action, who suffer. AS you know, this is sometimes even worse and more
difficult than to know the bad answer. To be with a question mark all your life, and to
hope everyday that maybe the door will be open, and I am sure you can probably-
explain to me what is this feeling.
You and your husband have really accumulated a lot of points in the international
community and in. the Arabic world in particular. We would be so grateful if you
would take this credit and use it to work and to do something to help the families of
these missing soldiers, and this will be in tradition of your family. Thank you very
Thank you very much AJex. MK Tamar
Gujanski who was the number one parliamentarian of the Knesset. On the last day of
the session they publish the statistics and everybody very quickly runs to see how they
stack up, but my desire in life is only to be just behind Tamara Gujanski, she is always
number one. Tamar.
Thank you. I am very glad to have this opportunity to
meet you Mrs. Annan. Noami Hasan described to you our work. You see, when you
have a chance to do something for women, it is always a thing you must bless. But
living in a country, which for the last 50 years is facing wars and bloodshed, of course
we have a special responsibility as women and as mothers to do more for this. This is
forme the most important task as a member of Knesset and as a public figure.
The second thing is, when you are working for women in a society where you have
social polarization you always find women in the less better and less earning part of
the society and unemployment, you have more women than men and so on. So, we
are dealing with all these problems. We are dealing also with the problem of equality
18of Arabic women inside Israel. You see, we have a population of about 17 to 18
percent of Arab population inside Israel. Arab women are discriminated twice, once as
a woman and secondly as part of the Arab population. So, we are dealing with this
specific problem also in our community.
The last think I would like to ask you, I am following MK Lubotski and he was asking
about a very important question for all of us, the problem of the missing soldiers. I
want to add another problem. You see, after the Gulf War in 1991 and after almost
the war this year, we are more and more concerned about weapons of mass destruction
in the area. We know that your husband and the United Nations are dealing with it and
with Iraq and so on and so forth. But I think, it is my opinion, it is the comer of the
region at last. Not only of one country, and therefore, I would like to give you later a
letter concerning this problem. My opinion is, we should fight and we should achieve a
state when the whole region will be free of weapons of mass destruction, not only one
country. It is very important for a country like Israel, which is not a large country,
with the population very concentrated and so on. After thinking about it, I think it is
one of the most problems.
The last thing, I must say, we are now before the 50 years of establishing of the Israeli
State and the State of Israel, and we will never forget the contribution of the United
Nation to the establishment of Israel. We know that without the resolution of the
United Nations Assembly, there would not be a possibility to establish the State of
Israel, and I hope that will come a day that the resolution will be fulfilled at last, and
the idea of two states will prevail. But for that, we must pass more and more
difficulties that you can see in your visit.
So again, we are very happy to see you with us, and we hope that we will have a
chance to see you in a day of hope,of peace and of happiness for all of us. Thank you.
Any questions. any statements, and we will make
this, as I said, as informal and as fruitful as possible.
Thank you very much and thank you for your
warm welcome. It has been a very moving morning for me, because we started at the
Yad Vashem, walking through the exhibition onwards, and then through the memorial
to the children, which really shows so eloquently that we should not forget that it was
not on 6 million, but it was individuals, it was an individual child, an individual woman
and an individual man who perished there. It is important to remember their faces and
their names. Thank you for your kind words about my uncle. As I said earlier, it is
somebody who has always been represent in my life, although he was absent. I can tell
you my husband met yesterday with the families of the MIA, he is that kind of person
he is, it is something that is close to his heart.
We should also remember that that the UN was born after the wars, for the people of
the world to come together, to say never again, and also the human rights declaration
that is celebrating its 50"' anniversary this year. The human rights declaration is, also
you should remember even earlier is also the women's rights. The issues that you have
mentioned earlier when you started, it seems to be very closely linked to the issues that
were raised at the Beijing Conference, women and violence, human rights of women,
the economic polarization of women and the fourth item was a girl child and somehow
or other, again it was an excellent admissible when you give the girl a name. Of
course, you need to give the little girl a name to make her visible in the culture
wherever you are in the world. She needs protection after her belt and in other
societies, at least the encouragement . and promotion to become a full member of
society. The class-sealing may be higher or lower in different societies, but it is
Myself, I was catapulted through the grass feeling of my own merits, but on the merits
of my husband, I will not pretend that I am sitting here as an expert, but since I
became, as you know, equal to that I was earlier, a lawyer, and as that I was also for a
period a member of the RAM, dealing with the ethnic discrimination at home. I was
interested in women's issues. But after that I was painting for 14 or 15 years, which is
perhaps the most solitary profession or occupation, I won't say that is a profession,
.because unfortunately you cannot support yourself on that
But, since the election of my husband, I have been pulled out from behind by easel and
-hung out to general observation, and what has helped me, I have been travelling with
my husband, and what has helped me, is meeting women across the world and fmding
that we can talk across cultures and boundaries about things that concern us all. It is
about the children, their education, health and also in a quest for peace. - Because
sometimes we are called the caretakers of children, that is supposed to put us in a
corner of the world, but actually it makes the first even better qualified to take out of
society and to see that these; children can grow up in a peaceful world.
This will be the next revolution, women taking
power in all the world.
Yes, you need so much energy I cannot
understand why this is not more translated into the power structure of the societies. I
think that even if perhaps you have here, as in my country we have the legal framework
in place, how do you get to the next stage, that it is actually the advocacy role, getting
the women out there
Although I must admit, we would not mind
having the 43% representation that exists in Sweden, and 50% of the Cabinet,of the
- But the Cabinet, that is a kind of a political
decision to actually get that high percentage in the parliament, there you need the
ground work and going from the municipal elections up through the national elections.
What is the secret of the noble women that
manage to do tha?
I was working there in the 60s or 70s when we thought we
were an affluent society. I was working then, at the time I was a single mother. But
what encouraged you was that every day some aspect of my situation was discussed in
the papers. It was discussed in some group somewhere, and even if I was not part of
the elected anywhere,you still felt you were very much part of a movement. It was
tough, I mean it is not easy to work and to take care of a child. Not only that, when
you are brought up as a little girl, you are not brought up to take charge, to make
decisions and be alone. You have to deal with yourself, and there are so many in the
20s and 30s. You should have children when you are retired.
There are some people who love us to enter an
But it was very much a mainstream movement in
my country, while the society took the consequences of the quality, that it cost money,
because you have actually to provide for child care for men and women who are
In our society, we have special facts that may be
in the others it is not hardly incurred, only 2 or 3 generations back. In Jewish society,
the woman did not get the opportunity to develop herself in this way, because our 2 or
3 generations back, our parents, our grandparents they were most of them in Europe,
they were religious people. The religious society, the place of the woman is very
specific and we are just in the beginning, I think, from our point of view.
We are one step at the- beginning, what I think is
your critical point, and that is, in the cultural constraints, which give acceptance, which
have to be adjusted in order to give acceptance to the basic concept of equality on a
gender basis, the understanding that there are men and women in every category of
society. That shift has not occurred yet in Israel, although our gains are not
Perhaps, before changing the State you must
change the woman. I mean the women are accepting the situation, they are not
revolting. We have the problem of changing the woman, that is the problem.
Let me just interrupt, my colleague and friend
Anat Maor, a member of Knesset just entered. She has been working extensively as
chairperson of the sub committee on women in the economy.She just came down and
apologizes for being late, but was also at the vote. Unfortunately our plenary is
working overtime today.
Let me just say that I withdrew temporarily a bill trying to, in a sense, copy this
Scandinavian legislation on women's representation, mainly because today we are only
presenting bills with a few minutes, it will take me ten minutes to explain it, why it is
important, so I delayed that aspect which, by the way, that legislation has very little
chance of passing, but by bringing proposals of this sort to the table, it is part of our
overall campaign and strategy to increase sensitivity and awareness to the justice that
equality between men and women brings to Israeli society as a whole, not just the
You know the women, it was not done the
MK. NOAMI HASAN; Sorry, Norway was done through legislation, and
in Sweden there was done, and Finland, by the way as well, leave that aside, that is
comparative stuff. Anat do you want to say two or three words, because everybody
First of all, welcome, it is our pleasure to have you and
your husband with us. In the head of the sub committee of women in working in the
economic field, I personally believe it is very important, because it is not enough to
protect women. We really have to have women who are the model of success in
working in the economic field, so I believe, more so the modern democracies, we work
regarding to increase the gap in salary between men and women. In Israel it is 24% in
the public service, where from behind to have more women in high management
positions; in how to push women to small business, or even a big business, to be part
of the economic field.
Another point is women in the politics. I agree with Noami Hasan, that it is a very
important point of view. I believe we have to struggle about it in our parties, but that
is what we are really doing in the Meretz party. The last word, personally I belong to
the peace camp in Israel from 1968, which is one year behind the Six Day War, and I
believe that your visit to Israel and to our area, it is a very important support to come
back to the Oslo Agreement, to the peace process. There is no question about it that
we have to do it as a sovereign state_ and with our neighbors. We appreciate very
much the support and hopefully we will come back to the peace road.
Just an interjection, there are 9 women members
of Knesset, 6 are in the opposition, that means from parties from the center to the left
and Marina is in the peace camp, even though she is in the coalition, therefore you are
hearing a lot of very strong, good peace talk, because many of us have been very
involved as members of Knesset as Anat Maor said, in the peace movement. But some
of us, including the women here, have established several women's peace. movements
with Palestinian women and I must admit if they would only let us do the negotiations,
the results would be quite different.
I would like tQ say something about what you
say, that you are from the center and you are for peace. I would like to say something
more. For peace. I think that an Israeli would not fmd not a woman and not a man that
is not for peace.We just have the different opinions about the way to do peace. But
that is the people from the coalition, they are not against the peace, and the opposition
is for the peace, it is not that.
All I was saying is, to put the points to be very
explicit,if the women were to lead the peace camp in Israel, in recognizing the right of
self determination of the Palestinian people, it is much more precise, and therefore,
calling for the creation of a Palestinian State alongside Israel, in the interest of justice
for the Palestinians and full independence and security for Israel. So, I accept the
correction of Mrs. Tichon. Really all Israelis are for peace, but our differences do
reside squarely in how it is to be achieved, and that is one of the reasons why Israel, as
you see, we are so polite, you watched us in the Plenary, we could not even agree
whether the greeting of the speaker was sufficiently warm or not.
But that is because, if you have two Jews you have three
opinions, at least.
Yes,but -could I say where there are 120 members of the
-Knesset, there are 240 opinions because each member is constantly arguing with
himself or herself as well.
My husband would make a correction, he is saying, we
have 120 members of the Knesset, but we have 5.8 more or less politicians who are
sure that they can do better.
Mrs. Annan do you have any questions or do you want
us to keep talking, because by the way, we have got politicians close to politics, and
one of the few extra minutes at our disposal, is our tongues. Maybe we should give
the Israel Women's Network a chance to say a few words.
We are working mainly with the bureaucracy. What is
different in our organization that other women's organizations, that we are working
less with grassroots, not because it is not important, because other organizations are
dealing with it and we have been established about 14 years ago, and members of
Knesset, Noami Hasan took part in it. There was a group of women that felt that there
is not enough change in changing policy, so we are dealing mainly with trying to
change policy through legislation, litigation and so on. But we are working a lot in
education field and women's health and everything, but less with the women in the
grassroots. But we might get into it too.
What I wanted to say, MK Hasan mentioned that we have this committee just from the
last Knesset, the 13th Knesset, and thenumber owomen in the Knesset did not change,
or if it changed, not for the best. What is important, I think, the two last Knessets, is
that the women who are members are feminists, and this made a lot of change. So,
,12even though the number did not grow, or even the last Knesset we finished with
and now they are 9, the fact that they are feminist women and the fact that in this
Knesset, men came and they really care about women issues, and MK Lubotski is one
of them, but there are a few more,' I think it is very very important in showing a
change, even though the number did not rise.
Perhaps just two more words, because I keep getting
instructions, you have 3 more minutes, you have 5 more minutes. By the way, I
sympathize with you, because you are constantly tugged from one place to another,
and probably feel exhausted. Could I just say two or three thoughts in conclusion,
before they whisk you away to lunch.
First of all, Israel has been very active in the UN Commission on the status of women
since its inception. I personally was on the Israeli delegation both to Nairobi and in
parenthesis can I say we are also the first contacts with Palestinian women and women
from the region. I was also a member of the delegation to Beijing. We take very
seriously the work of the commission and the recommendations of the plan of action of
Beijing. In other words, we see the work of the UN as essentially giving us guidelines
for the kind of translation to Israeli reality and progressive legislation that we have to
You remember when Dan Meridor was Minister of
Justice, put on the bill
Yes, the elimination of all forms of discrimination
against women. By the way we have been practicing that for ten years, if I remember
right. So again. the first point is really that the networking, the support of expertise of
international women provides us with a great deal of strength and ever once in a whole
when we do get frustrated, we look and we see that we w\have whom to talk to, where
to get advice and also a little bit of international prodding, which I think is creating
really a grand swell of a lot of work 'in different countries for promoting the status of
Number two. other members have mentioned, I by the way did not bring up the very
personal thing of your uncle, but can I say I have myself a nephew who fell in love with
your uncle when he was nine years old, and he decided that he could not live, breath
.14without knowing everything about Raoul Wallenberg. Now this nephew is now
He heard that you were coming to the Knesset. He woke me up at 1.00 a.m. and said,
"Just tell her there are lots of Israeli children that consider Raoul Wallenberg their
hero and can you invite me to the Knesset today?" I said, "No Michie you are going to
So, what member of Knesset Lubotski and other members have echoed feelings of
reflection of a grand swell that exists in the hearts and minds of many Israelis. I think
it is appropriate that it comes from us women as well as men that there is just so much
respect and I would say love for the works, and you know we are honored, really. I
want to put the emphasis on the fact that we are truly honored. This was a period when
very few people had courage and host somebody who is a member of a family of a
person who had the courage to stand up for justice and human rights, and there were
circumstances, is truly an honor for us.
So, I would like to thank you on behalf again, not only from members of the Knesset,
but of all the children of Israel, and fmally we are trying to create a just society in Israel
and in the region, and I think any help and support we get in achieving that goal can
only benefit the global community as well as ourselves. So thank you for all your
efforts and welcome again,
I want to thank you and I think one of the needs is to achieve a
quality that we are striving for our own .models and I think you seem to be one for role
models and also your quest for peace, which is the best legacy we can leave for our
children, for them to grow up to be wonderful human beings. They have the right to
grow up in the whole region. I again thank you for the words ofRaoul. As I was born
in October 1 944 it was very much part of my life, in the sense of my grandparents.
What is important also for all of us to be out there and make a difference, not a lot, it
can be small matters, it can be in larger matters. As my husband said earlier this
morning,if there were more Raouls around, would that have made a difference, and if
it needs to make a difference today because they are still suffering,and there are still
issues to deal with.
So, thank you very much for meeting with me and I wish you all success in your