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Government approves establishment of gender equality cabinet

New forum of nine ministers will work on policy for campaign addressing violence against women, closing wage gaps and other issues; ministers also okay new PMO public affairs chief

Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli speaks during a faction meeting of her Labor Party at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, on October 4, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli speaks during a faction meeting of her Labor Party at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, on October 4, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The government on Tuesday approved the establishment of a gender equality cabinet that will work on promoting policies such as curbing violence against women and closing gender pay gaps.

It will be composed of nine ministers, male and female, and will be led by Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli, who proposed the idea.

“The decision to establish the cabinet was a condition of the Labor Party in the coalition agreements, due to the paramount importance of creating gender equality in all areas of life,” the Labor party, which is led by Michaeli, said in a statement.

“I am proud to bring to the Knesset the feminist campaign that we waged for so many years,” Michaeli said in the statement.

The cabinet will work at implementing existing government programs, including the national campaign to prevent violence against women. Its purview will also include forming policy to combat sexual assault, closing wage gaps, and caring for vulnerable women.

Michaeli said the cabinet will “work overtime” in light of the current reality of “endless incidents of violent and sexual harm.”

“The cabinet will look at the problems and needs of women and help all government bodies work on every single project for gender equality,” she said. “It’s time for things to start moving and for real equality to be promoted.”

Also Tuesday, ministers approved the nomination of Elad Tene to serve as head of public affairs at the Prime Minister’s Office, a position that has been vacant since 2015.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett tapped the longtime news editor for the position last month.

Elad Tene. (courtesy)

Ahead of the vote, Bennett stressed the need to fill the post saying that during May fighting with the Gaza Strip, Israel was given a “painful reminder of the vacuum of national advocacy” that left the country open to endless criticism from “haters” who were “playing against an open goal.”

In May, Israel fought an 11-day battle against terror groups in the Gaza Strip. Hundreds were killed in the conflict as Palestinians fired rockets at cities in Israel, which responded with intense airstrikes on terror targets in Gaza.

Bennett promised that, together with the Foreign Ministry under Yair Lapid, they will rehabilitate the country’s advocacy apparatus.

“We will make sure that we are ready to tell our story to the world, routinely and, God forbid, in an emergency,” the prime minister said.

Tene, 49, a captain in reserves in the Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson’s Unit, has held various media positions over the years, including at the Kan public broadcaster for the last six. Previously, he was the deputy editor of the Maariv daily, editor of the nrg news site, and an editor of the Makor Rishon weekly. He was also a founding member of the Ynet news site, and served in editing positions there for five years.

In an August state comptroller report, the issue of the Public Affairs Department was brought to light amid the COVID-19 pandemic. With the office being unmanned, crucial coronavirus-related information coming from various governmental and military departments was not being coordinated.

For most of 2020, the Health Ministry and the IDF Home Front Command issued much of the same information twice, which not only caused confusion but also wasted public funds, the report said.

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