Social institutions, traditions and religious laws have kept girls and women at a disadvantage in schools, in the workplace, in divorce cases, and as victims of violence. Israeli women in minority and disadvantaged groups have disproportionately high rates of unemployment, poverty, health problems and abuse of basic rights. Women make up close to 50 percent of the workforce in Israel, yet are paid an average of only 62 percent of men’s salaries. And women also constitute 70 percent of those earning minimum wage or less.
The Orthodox religious monopoly over marriage, divorce and other issues of personal status impinges on the rights of Jewish women to marry whomever they choose or obtain a divorce without their husband’s consent. Their Arab neighbors often have it worse, with polygamy illegal but common in Bedouin households, domestic abuse and even honor killings staining the community. Most vulnerable of all are the women, almost all from the former Soviet Union, who are trafficked for prostitution – a growing problem in Israel.
The New Israel Fund founded or funded most of Israel’s women’s rights organizations and networks, dating back to our establishment of Israel’s first Rape Crisis Center network more than twenty years ago. We’ve achieved landmark legislation, including the Equal Employment Opportunity law, and precedent-setting court rulings. Our programs empowering economically disadvantaged women are in place in inner cities, development towns and unrecognized Bedouin villages.
If you support NOW, Planned Parenthood, NARAL or Emily’s List, join with the New Israel Fund to reflect those same values in Israel.
Understanding the issues: