Israel scored lowest among the 38 OECD countries in a recent gender equality index, scoring less than half the average for many Western nations.
The OECD Social Institutions & Gender Index is marked from 0 to 100, with zero indicating no gender discrimination. Israel scored 33.4, compared to 20.1 for the US, 12.1, for the UK, 10.2 in France, 15.9 in Romania, and 24.7 in Turkey.
The ranking places Israel and Japan (33.3) as the OECD countries with the widest gender equality gaps.
The full OECD index — published in March but only picked up by Israeli media this week — examined 179 countries around the world on four parameters: discrimination within the family framework, protection and personal security, access to financial resources, and the exercise of civil liberties.
On discrimination within the family, Israel scored 40.9 while the average for OECD countries was 14.2 and the global average was 37.8.
Attorney Ayelet Razin Bet Or, director of government’s Authority for the Advancement of the Status of Women, told Ynet that the findings “are troubling and require all those involved in the issue to conduct a thorough examination, each in their own area.”
She expressed hope that the formation of a Ministry for the Advancement of the Status of Women, under Likud’s May Golan, would prioritize the issue nationally, including allocating resources to narrow the gaps.
“Gender equality is a component of the resilience, prosperity and stability of a society,” Razin Bet Or said. “The State of Israel has made inroads, but there is no doubt that reaching the goal is still far away.”
Hadas Daniely Yelin, CEO of the non-government Israel Women’s Network lobby group, panned the government for neglecting the issue of violence against women, and accused radical elements in the coalition of jeopardizing equality through religious coercion.
“Sixteen women have been murdered since the beginning of the year and there is no one who is taking this issue and dealing with it as required,” she told Ynet, in an apparent shot at National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, who is responsible for police, and campaigned on a platform of improving public safety.
Ben Gvir heads Otzma Yehudit (Jewish power), the most extremist faction in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition with far-right and ultra-Orthodox parties.
“The government makes it difficult for women to live in equality when it subjects women to the policies that extremists in the government seek to impose on women, passes laws that give priority to the laws of the Torah over civil law, and ignores the exclusion of women in the public sphere,” Yelin said.
In March, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation decided to reject a bill initiated by the previous coalition to introduce electronic tracking of domestic violence offenders, with Ben Gvir promising to bring a more “balanced” version that also tackles false accusations against men.