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MKs Fight Fiercely for Female Retirement Privilege

Militant feminist MKs insist women must retire five years before men, OECD standards and principles of equality notwithstanding.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 11/15/2011, 3:02 PM

MK Hotovely
MK Hotovely
Flash 90

Both female and male Knesset members fiercely attacked representatives of the Finance Minister Tuesday as they debated the decision to raise women's retirement age by two years, from 62 to 64.

Even at 64, the retirement age would still be three years under men's, which has been set at 67.

MKs from the powerful militant feminist lobby accused the Finance Ministry of presenting skewed statistics and demanded that the decision be rescinded. They were joined, however, by male MKs, who may have learned over the years that resisting the feminist lobby is futile, and harmful to one's career.

Finance Ministry representative Dr. Karnit Flug told the MKs that "in most countries, the retirement age is 64 and this is the direction in which the world is going."

She added that in most countries, the retirement ages for men and women are egalitarian and identical and that in the OECD, only three still plan to have different retirement ages for men and women by 2050: Turkey, Poland and Sweden.

She noted that women's life expectancy had risen by five years in recent decades – from 81 in the late 1970s to the current 86 – while the Finance Ministry is only asking to raise women's retirement age by two years. She contested the women's organizations' claim that raising the retirement age makes it more difficult for retired women to find new jobs, and said that on the contrary, women's average earnings would rise by 8-10%.

MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) shouted at Flug – "What planet are you living on?" and MK Zehava Galon (Meretz) accused, "We are being shown manipulative data." However, a Finance Ministry representative said that all of the data had come from the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS).

MK Miri Regev (Likud) and Ruchama Avraham-Balila (Kadima) cited the gaps in average earnings by men and women as an injustice that needed to be redressed before equalizing retirement ages. This injustice is corroborated by the CBS.

Talia Livni, the head of the Na'amat women's organization, said that a law must be passed making it illegal to fire women after the age of 50. Only then, she said, could retirement ages be made equal. 

Male MKs Yaakov Edri and Magali Whbee (Kadima) supported their female colleagues. 

A few days after the final sentencing of former president Moshe Katzav to seven years in jail, after a trial that was perceived by some to have been prejudiced by the militant feminist lobby which finds a cooperative ear in the mainstream media, male MKs may be even less inclined to oppose their female colleagues on a matter regarding women's privileges.

Even the judges at Katzav's trial blasted the women's groups for their interference in the proceedings against him, which many observers and pundits say simply ignored evidence that Katzav had behaved highly improperly but had not raped anyone.

Women's groups demanded Katzav's conviction long before he was even charged with any offense and beat drums loudly outside the courtroom as the District Court held its deliberations, prompting a scolding from one of the judges.