Jewfem Blog

Historic news on women in decision-making in Israel: New 1325 resolution

(cross-posted from Lilith) Last month, the Israeli government announced that it is establishing a team to formulate a working plan to advance UN Resolution 1325 in Israel—the resolution that calls for women’s equal inclusion in all aspects of decision-making, especially around issues of peace and security. The team will be comprised of senior representatives from almost all government offices, including the Foreign Ministry, the Defense Ministry, the Ministry for Internal Security, and the perhaps more obvious Welfare Ministry and Education Ministry. It will be headed by Vered Swid, the Director of the Office for Gender Equality of the Prime Minister’s Office (until recently titled The Office on the Status of Women) and will also include academics, researchers, and representatives from NGOs working on issues of gender, equality and social justice. The purpose of the committee, according to the announcement, is to ensure that Israel complies with UN Resolution 1325. This means ensuring women’s representation in all areas of decision-making, promoting women’s safety and security, and redefining “security” to include a more holistic understanding of women’s lives. Women’s groups have been working tirelessly for seven years to reach this moment and have faced sometimes daunting obstacles. “This is the first time that the government has committed to an action plan on gender, a tangible working plan with timetables, targets, and measurable objectives that can be evaluated and followed up on,” said attorney Anat Thon Ashkenazy, Coordinator of 1325 Israel on behalf of Itach-Maaki Women Lawyers for Social Justice, which has spearheaded this initiative for the past seven years. “It is also the first time that all the various discussions on gender have been connected – women’s representation, women’s security, and gender mainstreaming. That’s the essence of Resolution 1325, that all these issues are tied together.” Also significant is the list of participants in the process. This is the first time that gender is seen not as an issue of concern to the ministries of welfare and education alone, but rather as demanding the attention of all ministries. Until very recently, these ministries did not believe that they are part of the gender problem. Member of the Knesset Aliza Lavie, who heads the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women, which has been advancing this initiative, received a response from the Ministry of Defense earlier this year saying that they did not understand what their office has to do with gender. There is quite a lot for them to learn. The negotiations over the recent Gaza war, for example, took place with zero women around the table–not even Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, whose official job title was to be head of negotiations. Prime Minister Netanyahu found a way to replace her with his own male representative. (Could this manipulation have anything to do with Livni’s powerful campaign to replace him in the upcoming elections? I wonder.) The gender problem cuts across the board in Israel. A 2014 state comptroller’s report found that women fill less than one third of all senior management positions...

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Where Are the Women Leaders in Wartime?

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them,” Albert Einstein famously quipped. Yet, when it comes to the current crisis in Israel and Gaza, the same minds that created the problems seem to be the ones charged with resolving them. And those minds almost exclusively belong to men.Related A group of women have been working to change this, specifically to ensure that women have a seat at the table where strategies are formed and major decisions are made. The group, a coalition of over 30 Israeli and Palestinian NGOs that have been meeting regularly for the past two years, is charged with the mission of implementing UN Resolution 1325 in Israel. Resolution 1325, which affirms the “important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and in post-conflict reconstruction”, was passed in 2000, and Israel was the very first country to adopt the resolution in 2005 with the addition of Section 6c1 to the Law for Women’s Rights. The Section establishes that all government bodies, especially those involved in peace negotiations, are obligated to ensure appropriate representation for women from diverse population groups when building teams and committees for designing national policies. Since then, another 45 countries have also adopted 1325, some with very successful practices of implementation. In Israel, however, even with Section 6c1, the process of implementation has been slow and at times completely stalled. “Despite the fact that Israel was the first country to set the principles of Resolution 1325 into law, not a single Israeli government since then has formulated an action plan for applying the decision,” said Knesset member Aliza Lavie, head of the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women, who convened a special joint meeting this week of her committee along with the Subcommittee for Foreign Policy, Publicity, and Policy Awareness of the Foreign and Security Committee headed by MK Ronen Hoffman. “In Operation Protective Edge, for example, we see clearly… that men are deciding, analyzing and mediating the discourse. The time has come to advance and learn from the countries where women have been incorporated in all key areas of security using legislation and incentives.” Indeed, today, the team appointed by the Prime Minister’s Office for negotiations with Egypt does not have a single woman on it (National Security advisor Yossi Cohen, the Prime Minister’s representative Yitzhak Molcho, Security Ministry representative Yoram Cohen, Amos Gilad, General Nimrod). Even Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, whose official job title in this coalition includes overseeing the country’s diplomatic initiatives and peace talks with the Palestinians, was not invited by the Prime Minister to be on the team. Read more:

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