ישיבת ועדה של הכנסת ה-15 מתאריך 05/06/2001

Meeting in English in honor of Angela King


פרוטוקולים/מעמד האישה/3250



5 June 2001

פרוטוקולים/מעמד האישה/3250
ירושלים, כ"ג בסיון, תשס"א
14 ביוני, 2001

הכנסת החמש עשרה נוסח לא מתוקן
מושב שלישי

פרוטוקול מס'
מישיבת הוועדה לקידום מעמד האישה
שהתקיימה ביום ג', י"ד בסיון התשס"א, 5.6.2001 בשעה 10:30
חברי הוועדה: היו"ר יעל דיין
קולט אביטל
נחמה רונן
אנג'לה קינג
מרי חדייב, סגנית מנהלת הרשות לקידום מעמד האישה
אפרת ישראלי, יו"ר אגף מעמד האישה, נעמ"ת
מרים אורן, יו"ר אגף שיווק ומינהל, נעמ"ת
רות זק, מחלקת ארגונים בינלאומיים, משרד החוץ
ורד ליבנה, מנכ"לית האגודה לזכויות האזרח
אלה גרא, מנכ"לית שדולת הנשים בישראל
עדינה כץ, יו"ר קואליציית ארגוני הנשים בתל-אביב
לאה אהרונוב, יו"ר מועצת ארגוני נשים בישראל
מיכל יודמן, מ"מ יו"ר העמותה לקידום מנהיגות נשים
שילה הטיס רולף, ספריית הכנסת
עו"ד רחל בנזימן
דניאלה במברגר-אנוש
אנג'ל יוגל, הדסה ישראל
פיליס לוינסון, הדסה ישראל
מנהלת הוועדה
דנה גורדון
נרשם על-ידי
חבר המתרגמים בע"מ
We are going to conduct this meeting in English in honor of Angela King. Many of us know Angela. I felt that in spite of your very crowded calendar and schedule we owe ourselves the pleasure, we deserve the pleasure of hosting you here in the Knesset. I would like to say that this committee is micro of what you are doing worldwide. We are trying to do here things ten years now. I, as a fresh, not young, but new member of the Knesset founded the Committee for the Advancement of the Status of Women. It is a long name. It really means women’s rights and we have gone a long way since.
I would like to just mention some of the things we are trying to achieve and some of the goals that we have tried to set to ourselves. Through it, perhaps, you will understand that the problems that Israel as a society is facing in this domain.
I would like to say before and above and besides everything, of course in spite of the common denominator that we have as women and they are today the largest number ever, members of Knesset who are women. That is 16 out 120 and the largest number of women in government, which is three out of the highest number of men, 24, I think, now. We have three ministers with important portfolios and we have got two deputy ministers. I am not impressed by these numbers other than when judging them relatively, because we were nine Knesset members and then twelve and now we are 16. It looks huge. We are not among the leading countries in representation. But in spite of the things we have in common, Israel’s priority and I am saying this objectively, not from my point of view, is still the political struggle and there we of course vary and we plead according to our party of origin, our attitudes, our ideologies. I am not in the minority - I am a minority in the Knesset, this government - but I am very proud of the involvement of women in the peace process, in the peace movements. In the peace front there are more women than men on the whole in the movements which I participate in and lead. Like Peace Now, like Women in Black, the Four Mothers, at the time of the struggle to get out of Lebanon. I don’t know if these things are related. Our absence in government prompts us to protest movements, to demonstrations, to express ourselves in the one way that is free. But I am very proud, from my point of view, to say that women are very heard and noticeable in the peace effort and in the peace movements. One of the best known organizations, Women in Black, was awarded a special award and I see today a big ad in the papers saying that next Friday there will be all over the world a protest, demonstrations, identifying with Women in Black which we respect and give a lot of credit to in the belief that we want to go one step different. When we talk about the quality of women and this goes right and left and center. Everybody is pro every woman representative, for equality. I cannot separate it from equality of people and I don’t think I can in any way advocate inequality of the Palestinian woman and the Israeli woman, Israeli people and Palestinian people. When we talk about equality, it’s equality of human rights, of civil rights, of women’s rights. As I said, I am very proud of Israeli women in the struggle for peace and being in the forefront of this and being in the service of communication with Palestinian women and believing in the future which would mean a two state solution with all the preservations of rights and the full rights to both sides.
We have here among our guests representatives of women’s organizations, voluntary and also ... an authority which was established by law, the Authority for the Advancement of the Status of Women. Others call it women’s rights which is okay, but the point is really that we are not talking only about women as victims, but women as equal and the need to advancement.
We are dealing with the committee and everybody who is here is involved in the same one or the other subjects with two groups of, I would say, status of women definitions. One has to do with, as I said, the woman as the victim, violence against women which is on the rise here and where we can show some kind of advancement and achievements, but certainly not enough. Victim is a victim when it comes to personal law, refers between religion and State. We don’t have separation. Women are victims to the lack of separation because in the eyes of all religions, I must say the Jews not being much different, a woman is not equal by definition and women in Israel, in the absence of such a separation, certainly are victims as far as personal status, marriage, divorce, etc. go. We are dealing with different sectors, whether it’s new immigrants and handling of absorption as far as women are concerned. The Arab sector, which again has its own.
To cut it short, we are heterogeneous and the more heterogeneous we are the more specific groups of women have those specific problems. We are handling women’s health which is something we try to advance and bring the attention. The Ministry of Health, sometimes with us and sometimes not, but to really give attention to detection and prevention and treatment of diseases which are specific to women, other than just fertility. Fertility is something that is the easiest. Israel is very advanced as far as taking care of the woman’s womb. We are great there. We want women to fulfill themselves in having children. The State invests a lot in it. There is good legislation, good budgeting. But before, when she is anorectic or after, when she suffers from later age diseases, or osteoporosis, or the prevention and detection of breast cancer, it is less. The help and the support is less evident.
As you probably know, we have women in the army, compulsory conscription. This brings another domain into attention and action. Again, good and bad. The advancement of women in the army on the one hand and prevention of sexual harassment on the other. This committee is a legislative one and many of the important anti-violence advancement affirmative action laws were initiated by us and advanced by us.
I envy you because you have got the world in your hands. I don’t envy you for the size, scope and the variety of the problems that you have to cope with. But I think that we all share a real change in the last, I would say, decade, if not more 15 years. A big change in your attitude of the basically male society to what we are trying to achieve. We have got our own voice. You are one of the representatives of this voice. We have got our say. We have got perhaps less means to be effective, but we have mobilized not only women but people who care, people who are fighting for human rights, and civil rights. Israel as a microcosm still has a long way to go, but I have a feeling that we are part of the change in attitude and we are fighting the same as the rest of the world.
I will end by adding that although we are a developed country and not third world, we still have economically very major problems that we face. There is still a wage gap of 30-40% including in the public service. More women are unemployed, more women have to take jobs under the minimum wages. Single parents, a large number are deprived of many rights by social security. So on the one hand we have got this image of the woman soldier and Golda Meir was the prime minister and all the good things, but I feel an enormous responsibility and a very long way to go.
I would like you to address us and then we’ll have a chance to hear from some of the guests.
Thank you very much. It is certainly an honor for me to be in Israel but a special honor for me to be in this committee. Some of you I have met, some of you I have known for some time. You are quite right in saying that we are fighting for the same cause. I am particularly happy to see that the committee has men on it. I know you have men, because you very kindly sent me a little report about the work of this committee.
We, too, have problems with titles. I have a very long one. I am the special advisor, Secretary General for Gender Affairs and Advancement of Women. The Gender Affairs part is, I think, a result of ... which stressed the gender roles, the partnership between women and men and the fact that women cannot get there on their own. They have to work with men, just as governments have to work with ... and we have to be multi-ethnic.
I just want to say a few words about gender equality development and peace, which really are the themes of vision and are the ... of the work of the United Nations. The gender equality said, we have seen in terms of decision making and the push to get more women in parliaments and decision making. The United Nations has a target of fifty fifty. We are still just below forty percent in the professional force and higher force. The Secretary General is trying to do his best to get women in senior positions to work in the organization - human rights or population funds, where food programs headed by women. I must say that organizations that are headed by women are amongst the best run. Their budgets actually are also very well run as a whole. They are good managers as well as well as very good professionals.
So we urge you to continue and 16 is still a very good amount. I met some of them and three ministers of the twenty four.
In the area of development we also think it is very important to push economic equality between women and men and equality of opportunities. I know that you have sponsored amongst you several laws for equality and equal conditions of work. The reason why I came here is I was invited by the Gol... Center and the theme of that symposium is the Impact of Economic and Social Development on Women. There were many very interesting discussions there, which reflect situations all around the world, not just in Israel. There were women who are now ministers of government, directors general of foreign affairs, officers, who have benefited from that Center.
The other point is peace and as you know you have spoken about it. We are happy to know that the women of Israel are working very hard with their sisters in Palestine towards peace. The Women in Black were honored at the United Nations a year ago on International Women’s Day. They are well known. They have participated in ... sections of ... for the Security Council members. I am sure you are all aware about the Security Council on the 24th and 25th October, there were 40 speakers. For the first time they were discussing women, not just as victims of armed conflict and atrocities, but as active promoters of peace, conflict resolution. Right now the Secretary General is looking very hard for a woman to head some of the peace keeping missions in Africa. We have had only four for the armed conflict in the UN. More and more women are participating as monitors, and in the civilian and police operations. I believe that one of your former brigadier, generals, as well as one of the leaders of the police and I think there is a lot that perhaps Israel can do to assist the UN in the various peace keeping operations. Particularly in the integration of ethnic groups, like in Croatia or Bosnia. I think that we have now reached a point in the United Nations where the third theme of the Mexico Conference in 1975 is finally coming alive.
I must say that I arrived here immediately after the tragic event that took place in Tel Aviv and you have my deepest sympathy. In the few days I have been here I have had a chance to see the major trauma and effects on individuals whether they are in government, whether they are women working in the shelter, young women and then of course this very tragic situation. We hope that your courage and hope and the real desire for peace amongst those on both sides who have this desire, the situation will eventually be solved.
I must say also that at the United Nations Israel has played a very supporting role in the status of women activities. We are deeply thankful for this. Through the non-governmental community, like Penina Herzog and others, the National Council of Women, we have heard the voice of Israel and your communities.
Apart from the peace issue there is of course the trafficking and the status of women. Trafficking of women occurs all over the world. I think it is a question of women being trained in various ... and technological areas. We have several studies on this, which is coming out shortly.
Of course, perhaps one of the most important right now, the fact that there is an optional ... to the ... Convention, which entered into force in December. We expect that the first cases where women can bring individual conflicts before the committee will start this year. We hope that shortly Israel will also be able to ratify that optional ...
Again, I just want to say thank you very much for this opportunity. It is a great honor for us and I bring you greetings of the United Nations.
I thank you Angela. We will do a round of words. If you have questions to Angela King, I am sure she will be willing to answer or throwing light on some of the things. Please introduce yourselves and where you come from.
I’d like to ask you, what’s with you on the status of the attempts to stop traffic ... I am ... ... for Israel ... Organization strictly exposes this problem in Israel. The truth is that we haven’t been very successful in doing much. Not let alone stop the traffic but even to reach the women who are trafficking to try and seek them. It is very, very difficult. I’d like to ask you, how do you see this question globally and do you see any way in which the problem itself, the trafficking itself could be somehow stopped or minimized or treated. I am concerned because I think the economic interests are so high engraved there.
On the same subject maybe we can get some information. We have a problem of - let’s say we have a woman who complains. She is a foreigner, she doesn’t have rights here. We have to offer her protection, which we are not doing enough, because otherwise she wouldn’t give testimony. Once she does, what we are doing is, we are sending her back to where she came from, which is terrifying because she goes back into the threatening place of origin. We don’t have any way that can resolve this by offering political asylum. We don’t have political asylum just for protection. We don’t have a proper protection of witnesses and we don’t have - once she is exposed we are really subjecting her to danger again. I wonder if anyone found a solution, either political asylum on the basis of being subjected to violence of that sort.
I have one related question. On issues such as terrorism. The understanding that unless there is international cooperation, unless there is legislation, international legislation, it is very difficult because it crosses borders. Is there anything considered at the United Nations in the way of, if not legislation, international decisions cooperation and so on?
On the trafficking issue I think you touched the point when you said there has to be legislation. Very often people say, okay, you legislate but then you don’t implement. But on the trafficking issue I think one of the very bright lights is that in December last year there was at Palermo the adoption of the Convention on Trans-national Organized Trend and optional protocol which was for the suppression and punishment of persons who were trafficked, particularly women and children. That protocol, particularly women and children, it was basically the ... Forum on the Commission on the Status of Women who lobbied in Vienna to get those words in. So now you have an International Convention. I am not sure about the number that has to ratify before it comes into force. But I think that talks a lot about cross border cooperation. I think there can be international lobbying to have the ratification of that Convention. It will be very useful.
The Office of the United Nations that deal specifically with the implementation of that Convention and building up all the procedures for the trafficking part of it is in Vienna. In Vienna it is under Mr. ... ..lackey and that is a crime prevention office. I am not sure whether Israel is represented on that commission, but there is a commission that meets regularly every year.
Then of course the Human Rights Office has monitors in various parts of the world. Mrs. Mary Robbins has monitors in various parts of the world. I was in Bosnia a few weeks ago. I met her with her representative who works with the International Organization for Immigration and the UN to try and find these women, put them in safe houses and return them home. Sometimes there are problems. The countries don’t particularly want them to go home, so they stall in getting them passports, and so on. But as you see there is a very real problem of witness protection. There is very little money for that and counseling for women, and where do they stay while they are - in prisons. So a lot more needs to be done in terms of awareness.
What is ... did on the question of trafficking I think it highlights a bit more, so there had to be awareness and ask for more research and detail. There is not enough detail on this particular issue. So I think if some of your research organizations can assist in this, it would be very useful. But it needs to be kept on the international level and all the questions that you’ve asked, we keep listening. Not enough listening is done. The UN Refugee Organization also brings to light a lot of these issues.
On the question of terrorism, there is not, as far as I know, a convention yet, but there have been several meetings on it. But, again, not enough.
That happens at the level of national police, Interpol, etc.
As our Foreign Minister said to us yesterday, a terrorist in the eyes of one is a freedom fighter in the eyes of another, so one cannot - But trafficking is a very specific thing. We are collecting material. The Knesset has decided and it is in action now on a parliamentary research committee, inquiry committee. This committee has been given a lot of time. We have legislated a law, or an addition to the law, that I have initiated, that for the first time uses the term trafficking in human beings and people, meaning women of course. It gives a very high - 16 years - which is twice as for prostitution. They have used ‘by trafficking’ which is the first time that it is in our law books, but again we come to the problem of witness protection and implementation of the law and what to do with the victims themselves. I don’t know, is there any country that gives asylum?
I am not sure, and I was going to say that I would check. I think there is asylum now for escapees from issues like female genital mutilation, forced marriages from Canada and the U.S. On this particular issue I am not sure and I will check and will let you know. I don’t think that there is.
Holland gives some times - I think Holland will give them a year or so, will give them social benefits for the time they have to stay in the country.
SHEILA HATOS-ROLF - Executive Director of Social Rights in Israel:
I would be happy if you can relate to the question of the feminisation for the relevant different mechanisms between developed and undeveloped countries.
It’s a very big question. It is very high on the agenda. There are different mechanisms being tried. There is, as you know, the macro-credit schemes, the growing banks in Asia and Africa. A lot is being done at the Golda Meir Institute. I think, particularly recently, the conference that came up on the least developed countries, there was a great emphasis. There are 49 countries. The majority of them are in Africa.
I attended the meeting in Warsaw.
What came out there was the growing concept that there seems to be this nice pat answer for women, with the micro-schemes and the small loans. Of course every time 100% pat them on the back. But they are not macro-economic policies, so that even if they get together cooperatives and learn to develop products and so on they cannot reach the trading. So this awareness is growing.
What we try to do at the United Nations is to bring an agenda perspective in every single area like disarmament and so on. We are trying to get the member states to how to agreed to awareness of women’s role in all of these conferences. For example, there is a big conference coming up early next year on financing, the development. There will be certain themes like resources, organization of resources and so on. We have done background papers for them on the sort of issues that can come up in the case of women. For example, if you have women who cannot inherit property, who cannot get back loans, who cannot travel for business purposes without permission of husbands, then it does effect the economy. It is to try and create a greater awareness. But it is a growing phenomenon. I think there is a lot more lip service to the fact that you cannot have system of development or a good GMP without taking women’s contributions into account. But for many countries it still hasn’t gone much beyond the small schemes and so on. Even with Iran our agencies what they give in totality are very small amount. But they do piggy back schemes for training and so on.
Do you work with developed countries?
The developed countries, it is more a question of equality. There is no country in the world where there is a connection with the pension schemes. The issue, for example, of giving value to unpaid work in the home and of course like agriculture, labor in many countries in Africa, it is not rewarded at all. So these are very much on the front burner, but at the same time we will get some countries asking, how can we pay women for staying at home or caring for children. But at least there is a movement to try and have some value added to this work so that women, even if they won’t have a straight salary, they will have some value in terms of pensions or ... services. This is also happening at a time when the state’s ability to give these services is ...
As you mentioned the legislation on equal pay, on minimum pay, which effects women, we have Na’amat which is the largest women’s movement for working women. With their help and pushing and support and initiating we have passed quite a number of laws protecting the working woman. We are talking about developed countries. We are trying now to go into affirmative action, not on the level of micro credit, because this is not a problem to buy a sewing machine, but in State loans and have them State guaranteed and give some kind of preference to women when there are tenders, which are State tenders. It’s problematic, because it is in conflict with equality. You could come and say, why don’t you do it for invalids, why don’t you do it for Arabs, why don’t you do it for minorities. So this is a debate. We have a big debate, which I think is world wide. It is globalization and women. We are in a phase. We are a developed country and very advanced in many things. On the other hand, globalization is certainly not advancing. When you think of women in the economy, I don’t want to go into it, but it is one of the subjects that we have to address because on the one hand Israel is a democracy in the Middle East and far away needing long export lines and not being fully integrated economically into the region. Globalization is very meaningful to us. If we look at just women, there are big problems because the number of women you mentioned before are getting really the full technological and scientific - I am not talking about medicine - but in the in-between, the number is not large so we can’t speak of high tech as a women’s industry. We are not yet there. Now anyway high tech got a blow so it is not a flag to hold very high.
We are trying to involve the State in special loans. We see not poverty, but feminization of salaries in things which are well paid. If women are the major part of the teaching force, of nursing, salaries go down, or at least don’t go up. This attracts women. Even in the legal profession we have one profession where we have not a private but a State Attorney General and so on. It attracts women because it is good working hours and so on. Then the salaries remain static. Then men go to the private markets and they make much, much more and it creates levels.
A big, big problem which I discussed also at the UN, is of course the state subsidy to day centers and care of small children to enable women to continue their course of education. We don’t have it. It is a catastrophe when we talk about more women joining the work force and advancing themselves. One of the biggest problems women have, got already their education, or in the middle of their education is the fact that they have got to stop their careers because the cost of day care centers is very high. The government is constantly - I have seen about four governments refuse any kind of solution for subsidy even to study for just one year. You name it, we have it until now. This is a very major battle. I believe in developed countries this is one of the solutions that the state participates in and offers. We don’t have it.
It is very important for women who work. I was interested in what you said about affirmative action. Does anybody challenges this view? I quote an article from the C... convention. It says that affirmative action is promoted on a ... onto various quality between women and men. In fact we have special measures for women within the UN Secretariat. For example, in order to apply for the post you need a certain amount of seniority. Women usually are hired at lower levels. So we developed this scheme of having cumulative seniority of the years in grade of the present grade as well as the previous grade, which men don’t have. But this doesn’t ... for many women to apply for higher level posts.
A group of men challenged it and took it to the highest tribunal. Their verdict was that the Secretary General has a right to adopt and apply affirmative action for women until fifty percent is reached. So we have been proceeding with that. Of course in some areas we have quotas by countries and some countries are over represented. Israel, by the way, is way below. I keep asking your mission to give us more women.
Where there are a lot women and the country is slightly over represented, we ask for it to be more flexible for women than for men. So there are certain elements. I am also interested in what you are doing for local authorities. I was told in local authorities there is someone appointed -
Nechama is taking charge now of subcommittee for health and subcommittee for education and sport for women. So we wish her lots of luck.
When we did the legislation on the Authority and the State Authority - as a result in every government office there is a woman who is in charge of the advancement of women. Then the recent law, which I am proud to say I initiated and was passed by this committee, is doing the same for the scratching out of the local Authority. By law now, unfortunately it doesn’t have the budget it needs, but the mayors and local authorities will realize that it is doing them good because they are political and they have to show results and they need the activities of women. So now in every local Authority, by law, there is a woman in the Authority who is responsible - she is not only the address, she is also the lever to advance and do activities for women. They can complain to her, but she can also initiate. In most of the municipalities she also has a budget for action. At the beginning not all of them implemented the law and we wrote personal letters. We have a problem with the ultra-orthodox authorities and some of the Arab local authorities. They didn’t want or they said, okay, my cousin will take care of it. They are responsible also for advancing economic special training, trades and so on, according to the population. So it is not just having women’s day, international, having fun and giving free cosmetics. They have to show a program. We, like other laws, we are keeping on top of it. We have in July a meeting. There is new legislation for all the representatives from all the local authorities who are coming here. Then they are getting by the national authority, by the State Authority, they are going to get their own training and initiation and they train them for the job. I will know in a year how well it is working. But I think it is the right idea to work with the communities and with the local authorities because they have different needs in different sections.
ANNABELL YOGEL, past President of the Hadassah Women’s Organization:
We were also gratified that our big sister organization was accepted, Echo ..., we were very excited about that. It took them six years, but they persisted. I was one of the fortunate people that was a delegate to the NGO Conference in Beijing in ’95. I participated in many of the health sessions because our adopted program here in Israel is very much concentrated on health and social welfare issues.
I was wondering, as a result of the Beijing conferences with some of the recommendations, is the UN agency, especially World Health Organization, has been able to make progress in some of what we call Third World countries.
Good question. I think we have. One of the most exciting issues came out - I think it was in ’98 - with a joint statement by the World Health Organization, the United Nations population activities and UNICEF on female genital mutilation. Because that had been one of the taboo items in Nairobi and so on. As a result of that there has been legislation now in about nine African countries. Again, it is not all easy to maintain, but Uganda is making some progress and one of the population awards was given to a very small village in Uganda which had been working for about two years on it. The elders had been approached and so on. Finally that it was not good for the women or for the children or for the society. So that has been era. Egypt has passed a law against it. But also there have been some developed countries where they are receiving migrants, like Canada, the US - now has a law against it - U.K. That is one era.
But I think the big health issue that is confronting the UN now is the spread of AIDS. Not only in southern Africa - in the whole region there are about 26 million, with only about ten thousand getting access to the drugs. But it is spreading in China - not so much through sex but because of blood transfusions and it is definitely according to UN ... spreading much more quickly amongst women and girls now than it was originally. In some African countries it is eight times higher among the girls and the boys. So this is something that the UN, the Secretary General, is very involved in. They are calling for a fund of 7 to 10 billion a year. So that’s one of the very big challenges.
But another challenge of course is the recurrence of tuberculosis and malaria and they are working on that. In places like Afghanistan, which I visited a few years ago, to see women - it is really very poor. But the access of UN agencies to women in Afghanistan is very low. There is just no paths there in the last week. Another edict preventing women international workers which means in effect all the UN agencies - they are not allowed to drive. They are not allowed to have local male drivers, so that means you have to take one of your international staff in just to drive. It is really very limiting. So these are some of the problems.
We are dealing with AIDS, which you have mentioned among women because the numbers were rising. We also have a lot of foreign, illegal workers here from Africa. They don’t get the full health care that Israelis get. We have a ... population of Ethiopian immigrants. This was a big problem because it is very stigmatizing on the one hand. On the other hand, they really are, not only at risk, but there is a high percent of carriers. So it is not a question of blaming them. It is the place of origin. What we are doing now is trying to encourage, because you can’t do it without their participation, encourage pregnant women of a risk population to do a test because there is an unbelievable high percent of success in treating the baby in utero. Something like 88 chance if you detect it in time that an AIDS carrier woman will have a normal, healthy kid. So this is really a mission. I must say that some of the Palestinian clinics in East Jerusalem are offering free service to the foreign workers, like in the Tel Aviv area, who are afraid to be caught for being in the country illegally, so they go and the pregnant women get free treatment. But this is something which is a very small ray of hope. The fact that if you have the medication and you have the detection you can have healthy children. So at least not to have the next generation with this problem.
PHILLIS LEVINSON, President of Hadassah, Israel:
My question is more global and general of the United Nations. With the new human rights group that was just elected from various countries and some of the countries that were elected to the Human Rights Commission are known to be great violators of human rights, where the criminals are now running the jail. I think it reflects on many commissions that the United Nations. We can’t trust the answers you are getting from them. How does the United Nations deal with such things and is there any change anticipated in health - countries that are elected to various commissions.
I am more curious about Sudan and other countries that are known violators.
One of the issues that has evolved over the years is how people get elected. The lobbying is done amongst the member states on a regional basis. The people who elect, the U.S. and Europe, are from the west. We call them the Real Group - Western Europe. There are a lot of things that the member states control. The UN is the member states. The Secretary General cannot tell the member states how to lobby. Just to bring it home a little more closer, and I am not avoiding your question, but on the CEDO Committee, it is the largest of the treaty parties. It is the committee that, as you know, monitors the Convention of Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women. Israel has been on it for some time. A lot of the members of that Committee - it’s a lobby. They are not lawyers. Some of the members who are not lawyers, I am not saying that you all have to have lawyers, but the way that the members are elected - if you vote for my person on the CEDO Committee, I will vote for your person on ECHO ... this year. Then you return the favor. That is how it is done. So quite a few of the treaty bodies - for example, the other five treaty bodies there are very few women. The CEDO Committee finally has got one man, a Swede. Many years ago there was another one, also a Swede, which is very revealing. We, in the Secretariat, the state parties meet every two years. We send out notes whereby we encourage them informally to please make sure that the type of people you elect really care, really know, will speak up, will attend meetings. I know ambassadors from their countries are position where they can’t come to the four week session, etc. because of lack of time. So the negotiating and the way that people exchange, it’s very intricate, very complex. It is determined by, I am afraid, yourselves as member states. So the people who put on Sudan were the African regional group. The people who put on the other countries that perhaps some people may expect some doubt about, were that regional group. But in return Sudan or Jamaica voted for them on something else.
So until we change that system there is also another major problem at the UN known, is how the negotiation process goes, not just the lobbying or the election or the candidates. There was a big struggle to get the agreed ... of women. We finally got an agreement about affordable jobs and the degree to which access of women of all ages to health services.
Then the special session started on everything that had been agreed two weeks before was reversed.
kspecial session started on everything that had been agreed two weeks before was reversed.
That’s politics. We have a saying here, if I think who is responsible for whom and what is their qualification and what are their ideologies that they are supposed to be in a position to carry out, forget about it. I think if people would have been elected according to qualifications, which makes it possible for them to -
LEA AHARONOF, Chairperson of the Council of Women’s Organizations in Israel:
I think it must be said in tribute of this committee that the female members of the Knesset, really under the chairmanship of Yael Dayan, have I believe on the subjects and the most important subjects of the status of women in this country have really cut across party lines to support one another in legislation which I think, looking at the international scene, is quite progressive, if you compare it to many countries on the world scene. So I think that must be said in this room and, not part of the actual committee, I think that I could say that.
On the other hand, these are leaders committee, I think that the women’s organizations in Israel are the grass roots flip side of the legislative process that goes on here. I think in two ways. One that often they bring the problem from the grass roots to the Knesset, through the committee. Perhaps give some ideas for new legislation or including legislation. On the other hand, after the legislation has been passed of course it has to come down to the grass roots. I do believe that the women’s organizations are one such avenue to bring it to the grass roots. So we certainly feel that the partnership here is a very important one and we should try to play our role in advancing all of the legislation that is being passed here.
Rachel Ben Simon here who is responsible for anti-sexual harassment law. We are still getting backlash and we are getting - I am like permanently, with every case that comes up, we have to still answer the basic questions. It is a law that is working. It certainly made a position in the House here. From just ridicule to serious opposition and voting against it. Now with the help of Na’amat I presented and we are advancing with it next week, a stalking law, which is very important to us. Very difficult to explain. I saw in the paper last week a big headline here. They gave it a lot of space, but they said now you are going to prison for sending love letters and roses. It takes time to educate society, men and women, not only men to understand that the source can be innocent and the end can be graveyard. So legislation is not enough. We are working together on everything to really deepen public awareness. In the work with individual cases and also educate the judicial system. Because the police get the complaints and are also not aware even when there is a law. Then it comes to court and if the judge in court knows that there is a new law but he doesn’t really have a strong feeling about it. Then people complain less. But it is true that we are working - I wouldn’t be able to do anything in this House if I didn’t get from the first day really outreach into organizations and to women rights organizations and they work in full cooperation, because this can be just an empty word, even with legislation, until it is tied up -
EFRAT ISRAELI, Chairperson Status of Women Movement in Na’amat:
Na’amat is a big women’s organization in Israel. It is a political movement. It is a very old one. We are celebrating 80 years of Na’amat. I must say that I agree with Yael Dayan that the three parts of working for women is the legislation, education and implementation. In Na’amat we are trying to be part of the legislation by sharing this committee and other committees. We are part of the education system in Israel. We have many day care centers. We have about 23,000 children in our day care. We have also schools, most of them in the Arab sector. We are part of the implementation by trying to watch how the legislation is implemented. From time to time we are part of the coalition of women in Israel by demonstrating against many problems which must be taken care of by the members of the ministries.
We are trying to have many women in political life and we are trying to do it in many steps. Are we going to change the atmosphere? Are they going to change the situation? Na’amat is the high school for women politicians in Israel because most of us in Na’amat were elected. We have thirty branches all over the country. They are elected women. Golda Meir was part of Na’amat. Ora Namir also.
I started very late. I started into politics, running for office too late to be in Na’amat.
We are dealing with this major problem. How to get more women politicians in Israel in the municipalities and also in the Knesset. I am happy we have three ministers and two mayors. There are 250 places in the municipalities are women. We are going to increase the number next elections with the help of the coalition of women’s organization.
The number of high ranking officers in the army and opening of professions. For the first time we can speak of women in the army not only as officers and clerks. That’s, again, a policy. It is the development of a policy and continues.
ELLA GERAH, Executive Director of ... Network: I don’t want to take up your time to tell you what we do. We are a feminist lobby. I have a question that I would like to ask. As time goes by, more of us realize that there are good legislative frameworks in place in more and more countries. The problem is moving to be one of more of importance and implementation. Just as in the past the United Nations was a forum for debate and perhaps the recommendations gave ideas to possible legislation, I wonder if it is considering moving its accent, or including a new topic of perhaps giving guidelines for possible agenda audit of important principals and to assist NGOs and other bodies which are involved in auditing of legislation of how to improve that and possibly extend that by giving some teeth to different departments in the countries which we will adopt such a protocol, to assist us by internalizing the audit procedure like they have in the United Kingdom. They have an agenda as part of their audit program. It seems to me that would be very valuable in this country. I was wonder if this is on the agenda at all.
Actually it is taking place but it depends on which organization in which country. UNDP, the United Nations Development Program and UNIFEM. They do agenda audits for countries. They give technical assistance on how to do agenda audits. UNIFEM is actually now starting a agenda audit of its own projects in peace keeping areas. I was in Bosnia three weeks ago and I recommended a agenda audit. The Scandinavian countries do it quite a bit in various things. So we put various countries in touch with each other but it is certainly not unknown. We also have model legislation. I don’t know what particular legislation you are talking about. But through the CE... Committee and through various colloquia, judges and so on we try and make other countries aware of model legislation.
I sent material, I was asked, I even had the Foreign Ministry budget translation into English so the anti-sexual harassment and other laws because the UN asked for them. Then I gave the material. The European community is also trying to have now agenda audits and equalizing and Rachel Ben Ziman is in charge, hopefully soon, establishment of a human rights commission. Once it is settled we will certainly have, at least on a local level, agenda audit.
I was chairwoman of the committee to advance women into politics in WIZO, which is a non-partisan organization where we set scores for women leadership into politics, train women how to run a campaign, how to join parties, etc., etc. and we have recently established a non-partisan organization which support women candidates financially and ... and Adina also joined with us as founders of the organization because women have less money than men, especially in Israel. A lot of the men get into politics coming through the army, military service, or other sources. Women have less money. Therefore our aim and goal is to see that women will be financially supported on their personal campaign, changing patterns of voting, which is a key issue here in Israel. Women, and I am sure in other countries as well, do not vote for women candidates. So our goal is to work as non-partisans. We want to see women from all walks of life, from religious, ultra-orthodox, Arabs, left, right and center running because - may I mention - the current Knesset member women are working so beautifully together on most of the common ground. We believe that Israel would have been run differently, as ministers. There are enough excellent quality women to be ministers, to run the Ministry of Finance they would change priorities. In the Ministry of Welfare and Education, they would change priorities.
Let me just say one sentence. Yael German who is the mayor, the first time, of Herzliya, a very problematic town, who made a change. Being on top of the pyramid she nominated women to all the key positions. She was the only mayor who gave substantial budget to women issues, unlike most of the men who are mayors. So when women are on the top, they will make the changes. We are talking about the future. I have a dream. I have a mission and I think that with cooperation - in this room we have made progress.
I want to say, please keep your ... Try and get more women into parliament and decision because we have seen what is happening in the UK where they got all these women and now they are not even running. Please don’t let what happened in Britain - don’t be put off by the -
The second thing I wanted to say is that on this issue Israel has a fantastic reputation for scientific and technological development, your medical profession and so on.
The last thing is, just keep your solidarity, keep your faith, keep your courage, and please keep pushing your ministers and monitoring. This has been a great honor for me.
Angela, I thank you very much for joining us. I am sure we all benefited and what’s most important is that nothing is a one time thing. We have met before, we worked together before, we are going to continue as long as we can and it is wonderful to share ideologies, not only actions. I know that you are here in one of the toughest times that we are going through. We know where your heart is, where your head is and I am with you and you are with me. I just hope I will see you again. I really have my own dreams that your next visit here will see a more peaceful Israel and Palestine. I think it is a big priority to our specific agenda issues, once we can get off the table the other things which seem so pressing. Thank you very much. Toda raba.

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