May Golan, the minister for the advancement of the status of women, said Tuesday that she was tapping Merav Stern to be director-general of her ministry, making her the second woman to manage a ministry in the current government.
Stern, 47, is the founder of two groups that support women in the world of business and is joint owner of a business consulting and organization strategic advice company.
“Together with her I’ll implement a new, cross-community policy that will act for the benefit of women from all parts of Israel’s population,” Golan said on Twitter, lauding Stern as a “talented and impressive woman with a great amount of experience.”
Golan said she will seek the required cabinet approval for Stern’s appointment.
Earlier, Golan drew fire from women’s rights groups after reports that she was dismissing the director of the Authority for the Advancement of Women, Ayelet Razin Bet Or. The authority, which sits under the Social Equality Ministry, has spearheaded women’s advancement until the establishment of Golan’s new ministry earlier this year, which took on the task.
Razin Bet Or was appointed to the position by a selection committee under the previous government a year and a half ago for what was supposed to be a four-year term.
The Israel Women’s Network rights group slammed her removal, saying in a statement that it would harm “key processes and reforms that have begun to advance and will once again set back the treatment of the issue of women’s advancement in Israel.”
“We were surprised to find out today that the first decision of the minister for the advancement of the status of women was to fire a woman” said IWN head Hadas Daniely Yelin, and pointed out that heading the authority is a professional position and not a political appointment. She urged that Razin Bet Or be given the director-general’s post.
גם חלק מארגוני הנשים שרצו לכלי התקשורת כדי להגיב ולהשמיץ ללא הבחנה יכולים להירגע;
עתידה להתמנות בפעם הראשונה לתפקיד החשוב הזה – אישה מוכשרת ומרשימה בעלת נסיון רב.
ביחד עימה איישם מדיניות חדשה, חוצת מגזרים, אשר תפעל למען כל הנשים מכלל חלקי האוכלוסיה בישראל.
— May Golan מאי גולן (@GolanMay) June 13, 2023
The Israel Women’s Network, together with the Na’amat women’s rights group, sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asking him to cancel Razin Bet Or’s dismissal.
Golan, a firebrand lawmaker from Netanyahu Likud’s party, used the announcement of Stern’s selection to denounce critics as being too hasty in their judgment of her.
“Some of the women’s organizations that ran to the press to indiscriminately defame and react can calm down,” she tweeted.
In May, Gali Sambira was approved as director-general of the Public Diplomacy Ministry under minister Galit Distel Atbaryan, becoming the first woman to direct a ministry in the current government.
The coalition had faced criticism from women’s groups over the total lack of women as ministry directors general. In February, a group of three women’s rights NGOs filed a petition to the High Court asking it to rule that open director spots be filled with female appointees.
At the time, out of a total of 31 vacancies, the government had appointed 23 directors general to its ministries, all of them men.