Never before have American women had so many options--or been asked to make such difficult choices. It's time not only to make women full partners in government, but to make government work for women.
Israel's 1948 Declaration of Independence grants all citizens equality before the law without distinction by religion, race or sex. In 1951, the Knesset adopted the Women's Equal Rights Law, which provides that "there will be one law for men and women...every legal action and every judicial provision which discriminates against a woman, as a woman is void." In addition specific laws regarding equal pay and family leave have existed since the 1960's.
- Women have long played prominent roles in the Israeli government as Supreme Court justices, members of the Knesset, the current State Comptroller and, in the case of Golda Meir, Prime Minister.
- Israel has twice as many female doctors as the United States.
- All women 18-20 serve in the military. Nearly one in five subsequently chooses a military career.
- Women from more than 110 countries have come to Israel to learn how they can improve their economic and political status.
Ensuring Quality Health Care
According to a recent study, one-third of American women did not receive basic preventive health services in the last year, and one in seven failed to get treatment for an illness when needed--largely because of insurance gaps and high costs (Washington Post, July 15, 1993). By contrast, all Israeli women are covered by national health insurance.
Perhaps the most important innovation for women in Israel is the mother-and-child clinics described in the section on health care. These clinics are free, convenient and give women greater control over health services.
Every woman in Israel is allowed six months maternity leave, which is subsidized by the social security system. She is also guaranteed that her job will be waiting when she returns.
One area covered by the Memorandum of Understanding between the Department of Labor and Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is women's affairs. In fact, one of the first programs under the agreement was a seminar on women and employment sponsored by the Women's Bureau.