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Cabinet sets goal for women to fill half senior civil service positions by 2023

Civil Service Commission to designate top-tier posts for women to ensure targets are met; social equality minister hopes to set example for business world

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Social Equality Minister Meirav Cohen, in Jerusalem, on May 18 2020. (Flash90)
Social Equality Minister Meirav Cohen, in Jerusalem, on May 18 2020. (Flash90)

The government decided on Sunday to set a goal for women to fill half of the country’s senior civil service positions within two years, and to allow designating some posts just for women to ensure the target is reached.

The proposal was raised at the weekly cabinet meeting by Social Equality Minister Meirav Cohen, after she discovered that of the nearly half of senior management positions in civil service that were held by women, according to a review, only 11 percent of those jobs were top-tier posts.

“Gender equality, including in senior positions, will improve government work and will be a signal to the business sector, for which we want to serve as an example,” Cohen said before the meeting, according to Globes.

Under the terms of the proposal, the Civil Service Commission has the authority to allocate positions for women at all management levels, including senior levels, in the civil service. In addition, the commission will be required to report that half of those sitting on monitoring and placement committees are women.

Until now, the commission could only specifically designate positions to be filled by those from the Arab Israeli and Ethiopian Israeli communities.

The government set a goal for 2023 that women would hold at least 50% of senior positions, meaning those who work directly with directors general, such as their deputies, regional managers, department heads, and sections leaders.

A decision to ensure that women have equal representation in senior positions was already taken by the government several years ago under Cohen’s predecessor, Gila Gamliel, and a Civil Service Commission assessment found that in 2019, 44% of senior jobs in the civil service were held by women.

Screen capture from video of Eva Madj’iboj, director general of the Authority for the Advancement of Woman. (YouTube)

According to Globes the definition of “senior” allowed by the Commission covered a broad range of positions including some that are not managerial, as well as branch and section heads, rather than just those who work closely with directors general of cabinet ministries.

A review by Cohen along with the director general of the Authority for the Advancement of Woman, Eva Madj’iboj, found that of some 750 positions categorized as senior by the commission assessment, just 80 — less than 11% — were in fact leading, top-level posts.

“All studies have shown that one of the obstacles facing women is the transition to senior positions and management levels,” Madj’iboj said, according to Globes. “Even in professions and workplaces where there is a clear female majority, management positions are still regularly taken by men. Hence the importance of the proposal — the ability of women to advance to management positions and occupy a real place among decision makers.”

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