Statement by Rona Langer Ziv
Adviser, Permanent representative of Israel to the United Nation in Geneva
Mr. Chair, Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the outset, I would like to thank the Executive Committee and the secretariat of the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) for organizing the Beijing+15 regional review meeting. I would also like to express our appreciation to the synthesis of the important documents ECE/AC.28/2009/3 and ECE/AC.28/2009/4 published by the secretariat to review the implementation of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and policy developments undertaken by the member states.
Israel strongly aims to implement the goal on gender equality and the empowerment of women within the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), known as MDG3. We are also actively engaged in the Beijing platform of Action process, and recently in the Beijing+15 regional review process.
The principal achievements in the status of women in the State of Israel are expressed in extensive legislation intended for advancing women and in the mechanisms that were established in various areas of activity. The legislation and its implementation constitute the foundation stones for the advancement of women. In the last two years, emphasis has been put on issues concerning Gender Mainstreaming, obligating Government ministries and bodies to provide gender disaggregated data - by law.
According to Israel's National Report on the Implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995) numerous actions had been undertaken by the government of Israel to enhance women equality in various sectors. Due to lack of time I will only mention a few:
- In the Knesset, Israel's parliament, The Committee on the Status of Women has been active since 1992, and the Authority for the Advancement of the Status of Women has been operating within the framework of the Prime Minister's Office since 1998.
- The Prevention of Sexual Harassment Law was passed in 1998.
- The Council for Advancing Women in Science and Technology was established in 2000 by Government Decision and in accordance with a decision of the European Union.
- In 2002, the Unit for Gender Equality was established in the Ministry of Education, operating programs for eliminating gender stereotypes, programs for empowerment.
- The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labour operates courses for training women from various special groups; women from development areas, ultraorthodox women, and
single mothers - in order to advance them and improve their economic situation.
- The National Council for Women's Health is one of 18 councils that were established as advisory bodies to the management of the Ministry of Health.
- Around the country 70 centres are operating to deal with and prevent family violence, there are 13 shelters for battered women.
- Following UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women peace and security, intensive activity began on the part of women's organizations who recruited women Knesset Members and brought about the passing in 2005 of an amendment to the Law for the Equality of Women's Rights, requiring appropriated representation for women in bodies that shape national policy in all matters. The Authority for the Advancement of the Status of Women monitors and supervises the implementation of the law, showing that in the committees and teams under the authority of the Government ministries, the rate of women's representation is 37%.
- In 2006 a law was passed prohibiting human trafficking, stipulating that the victims of trafficking are entitled to free legal assistance from the State.
- Following legislation, the Commission for Equal Employment Opportunity was established in 2008. In March 2008, a law was passed to encourage the adapting of workplaces for women and for the advancement and integration of women at work. According to the law, financial incentives would be provided in appreciation to those employers who integrate and advance women at work.
In the regional and international levels, Israel actively supports the work of The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), which aims to promote sustainable development and economic cooperation among its member-countries and is particularly actively involved in the process of mainstreaming gender into economic policies in the region.
In this regard, Israel offers to share its experience on women economic empowerment, based on its multilateral approach to development. Israel has always considered investment in training women to be central to sustainable development. The Golda Meir Mount Carmel International Training Center (MCTC), subjects to Israel's International Cooperation Agency, known as MASHAV, is one of the earliest affiliate training institutions which have addressed the connection between gender, poverty reduction and economic development for over 40 years. MCTC's courses, workshops, study tours and seminars in Israel and in partner countries raise awareness of gender bias and the need for gender sensitive policy decisions. This centre was established by Golda Meir, the 4th prime minister of Israel (1969-1974) and the first female prime minister, who was described as the "Iron Lady" of Israeli politics.
In over 50 years, some 14,500 women, from Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, as well as Palestinian women and women from other countries in the Middle East have received training in Israel and a further 20,000 women professionals have participated in On-the-Spot training programs on these issues within MASHAV's programs abroad. MCTC cooperates with partner organizations, whether international, governmental or non-governmental and with United Nations specialized agencies such as UNICEF, UNESCO, UNHabitat, UNDP, UNIFEM and UNECE in developing joint programs within the context of the Beijing Platform of Action.
Many of MASHAV's courses in fields ranging from management of small and medium enterprises to agriculture are specifically geared towards women. This includes both training and support in the type of entrepreneurial activities in which women can most profitably engage. Israel holds some of these courses in cooperation with UNECE, focusing for instance on Women's Leadership Development, Women's Entrepreneurship and Micro-enterprise Development. Some others workshops were designed for professional women from countries of Central Asia, Eastern Europe and Caucasus, mainstreaming gender into the process of sub-regional economic cooperation, supporting the activities of the UN SPECA (Special Program for the Economies of Central Asia) Working Group on Gender and Economy. Further information concerning this joint cooperation could be found in document ECE/AC.28/2009/7, page 38.
The next joint training activity MASHAV/MCTC/UNECE will be held on December 2009 and will focus on Women Entrepreneurs and Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). This seminar will be conducted in Russian as we expect to receive candidates from the SPECA countries and have already received applications from Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and the Ukraine. The importance of this activity is in addressing the challenge of women's equal access to ICTs. The workshop aims to contribute to capacity building and provides support, guidance and managerial tools to women entrepreneurs on the use of ICTs in doing business.
Israel remains fully engaged in continuing the effort to raise awareness for the equality of women, encouraging women to have greater involvement in centres of decision making, so that women will aspire to be more involved in political and economic centres. We are also committed to widening gender mainstreaming and looking at legislation and its influence on both genders.
Thank you for your kind attention.