Interior Ministries’ promotion of the periphery, Negev and Galilee: Women are not on the agenda

Etti Aflallo, Calcalist, April 24th, 2019

Director General of the Ministry of the Interior: Mordechai Cohen, Director General of the Ministry for the Advancement of the Periphery: Ariel Mishal, Head of the Population and Immigration Authority: Shlomo Mor-Yosef, Director-General of the Negev Development Authority: Moshe Mor-Yosef, Director General of the Galilee Development Authority: Shlomi Atias.

The Ministry of the Interior is one of the ministries responsible for the most central aspects of the daily life of Israelis, both men and women, but it operates as a distinct male stronghold.

"According to Ministry of Finance data, the Ministry of the Periphery does not have even one woman in a senior position – a disturbing situation that is unparalleled in other government ministries," says attorney Miriam Zalkind of the Israel Women's Network (IWN).

"During the tenure of Aryeh Deri, as the person responsible for both ministries, the phenomenon of gender segregation and the exclusion of women in local authorities expanded, with dozens of cultural events and ceremonies, and even in the streets of cities, seeing women become second-class citizens through exclusion and the demands of modesty. From 2016 to 2018, the Ministry of the Periphery funded more than 200 incidents of gender segregation, and Deri refrained from publishing instructions to the local authorities prohibiting the exclusion of women, despite an explicit government decision on the issue from 2014.

"The exclusion of women is one of the main threats to the status of women in Israel, and exclusionary acts serve as a symbolic and real erasure of women from the public sphere, distancing them from the public eye and from the focal points of influence," adds Zalkind.

Another difficulty is that the Population and Immigration Authority (PIA) is subordinate to the Ministry of the Interior. According to the IWN, this has led to the discrimination of same-sex couples in registering as parents. Currently, the PIA does not allow same sex couples to register as parents of the newborn without undergoing special legal proceedings.

The local elections held in 2018 brought about the representation of women elected in local government, but these achievements were made possible mainly by the intensive activities of civil society organizations and the Authority for the Advancement of the Status of Women; without the Ministry of the Interior acting significantly in the matter and working to promote gender equality

Within the local authorities, there are additional steps required to promote gender equality. First and foremost, the IWN recommends promoting appropriate representation for women at the decision-making centers of the local authorities, and promoting an annual gender analysis of their budgets.

The IWN noted that although the law requires the appointment of an adviser for the advancement of the status of women in local authorities, many do not appoint one. Even when they do, she is often appointed for reasons that are not practical and does not receive the necessary tools for carrying out the job.

In addition, it is recommended to promote women and increase their security within the urban sphere: promoting personal safety and eliminating violence, including night lighting, municipal policing, and the conditioning of business licenses for places of entertainment on their being responsible for the prevention of sexual harassment.