A revolutionary decision
Hiddush's advocacy efforts result in historic success for gender equality in Israel's religious councils
Affirmative action for appointing women to Israel's religious councils will provide the long-awaited implementation of the Supreme Court's mandate for gender equality in public institutions.
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, Photo: Wikipedia
Israel's Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein instructed the Ministry of Religious Services to implement affirmative action for women on Israel's religious councils. The proper implementation of this historic decision is expected to allow dozens of women to serve in senior positions on religious councils. The directive was issued following Hiddush's consistent correspondence with the Attorney General and the Ministry of Religious Services regarding this issue.
Hiddush-Freedom of Religion for Israel President Rabbi Uri Regev welcomed the Attorney General's directive and the Ministry of Religious Services' notice and defined it as "revolutionary." Rabbi Regev expressed hoped that the Ministry of Religious Services will follow through on the Attorney General's directive to expedite the pace of integrating more women into religious councils and into senior positions.
Hiddush has led the advocacy efforts for greater gender equality in Israel's religious council for several years. These efforts have included a comprehensive report on the representation of women in religious councils which was sent to the Minister of Religious Services Naftali Bennett, the Deputy Minister Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan, and the Attorney General.
If the Ministry of Religious Services has difficulty finding proper candidates, Hiddush and other members of the Coalition of Organizations against the Exclusion of Women will gladly help them find women who are extremely capable of serving on religious councils.
The report found that in the past 23 years since the landmark Supreme Court decisions that paved the path for greater representation of women in public institutions such as religious councils, only 27 of the 450 religious council members have been women. Their representation makes up only 6% of the councils' members. The report emphasizes and establishes the need for the government to assume responsibility and act on this disparaging gender gap. Attorney General Weinstein's latest directive to implement greater representation will answer this dire need.
Rabbi Regev emphasized that "if the Ministry of Religious Services has difficulty finding proper candidates, Hiddush and other members of the Coalition of Organizations against the Exclusion of Women will gladly help them find women who are extremely capable of serving on religious councils."
According to Rabbi Regev, "The possibility that integrating women into senior positions in Israel's religious councils will be carried out in conjunction with the Ministry of Religious Services and Habayit Hayehudi party without any need to petition the Supreme Court is very positive. This development is one of the positive results of a Zionist government coalition. After close to 25 years since the Shakdiel Decision (which called for greater female representation in public institutions), we can no longer pretend to be satisfied with symbolic female representation in religious councils. They must have fair representation and take an active role in determining government policies."