Jerusalem, Nov. 6 - As the Arab world convulses in revolution, threatening secular dictatorships and theocracies alike, the future of women's rights in the region remains in question.
Amid the upheaval, the liberal democracy of Israel – while far from perfect – remains a reliable defender of women's rights. All women in Israel, regardless of race, religion or ethnicity, enjoy broad freedoms, rights and protections, including the right to vote, freedom of expression and career choices. Women are protected by law from discrimination. Israel's Declaration of Independence grants "all Israel's inhabitants equality of social and political rights irrespective of religion, race or gender."
Three years after declaring statehood in 1948, Israel passed legislation guaranteeing women the right to live in dignity, including providing equality in work, education, health and social welfare. During its 63 years of existence, Israeli society has undertaken many steps to advance the status of women. As a result, women have progressed in multiple spheres of Israeli life, such as politics, economics, education, the domestic realm and the military.
Despite impressive strides, however, Israel – like so many other countries – still contends with gaps in gender equality in a number of areas. Among the most notable are wages: Men's salaries remain about 20 percent higher overall than women's. And in executive positions, men make 52 percent more than women. That said, women in Israel comprise close to a third of executives, half of the country's judges and hold 47 percent of academic posts.