Israel to Join UN Women's Group

The Cabinet is expected this Sunday to approve Israel's acceptance of membership in the United Nations Women's Equality and Empowerment group.

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Chana Ya'ar, | updated: 14:46

Arab women
Arab women
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The Cabinet is expected this Sunday to approve Israel's acceptance of membership in the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.

Membership dues are NIS 3 million.

The Prime Minister's Office will appoint a representative to chair a professional steering committee that will set policy for Israel's participation in the organization, according to a statement issued by the PMO.

MK Gila Gamliel, Deputy Minister for the Advancement of Women, Young People and Students, who initiated the move, claimed that membership in the international body would “allow us to block attempts to delegitimize Israel and enable us to stress our country's positive aspects in the international arena.”

Both Gamliel and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in statements that Israel has a “proven record in the area of gender equality” and is “among the world's leaders in advancing the status of women.” 

The writer asked INN editor Rochel Sylvetsky, former head of Israel Emunah, whether there was any real chance for legitimate dialogue in the new entity. Sylvetsky spent a week as the only religious member of Israel's delegation to the U.N. Conference on Women's Rights several years ago.

"What we found during the week I spent at the U.N. with Dalia Itzik, Tzippy Livni (then a Likud MK), Yael Dayan, and other Israeli women from the entire political spectrum," she said, "was that every session became the stage for an anti-Zionist diatribe. Israel, which may have a way to go in certain aspects of equal opportunity for women, was bashed by representatives of countries where women are victims and virtual prisoners. When a delegate rose and introduced herself as a Palestinian living in the occupied town of Nazareth, only the Israelis, leftists and rightists, reacted.

"I hope that those chosen by the Prime Minister's Office to chair and sit on the steering committee will reflect the varied opinions and affiliations of women in Israeli society," Sylvetsky continued. "And if we are given the chance to accomplish what MK Gamliel, as a living example of women's empowerment in Israel would like to do, I will be pleasantly surprised.

"I would be even more pleasantly surprised if the U.N. entity put womens' rights in Muslim countries, or  more exactly,  the lack thereof, on the agenda," she said.