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Women in Israel Discussed at International Jewish Women’s Confab

“According to the laws on the books, Israel is one of the world’s most progressive countries in the preservation of women’s rights,” stated MK Ora Namir, at the First International Jewish Women’s Conference in Jerusalem this week.

Namir, who chaired the Labor Alignment government’s Israeli commission on the status of women, was one of 200 participants from 13 nations who took part in the conference, jointly sponsored by the Women’s Division of the United Jewish Appeal in the U.S. and Keren Hayesod. Conference delegates toured Israel and Holland from Sept. 7-14.

Discussing the status of women, Namir said that laws don’t always reflect reality, despite the fact that the “founders of the State of Israel struggled for an equal society” and guaranteed the equality of men and women. Rapid and unrestricted population growth, coupled by four wars, have taken their toll on Israel’s women and have left over half of them without even an elementary education background, she said.

Namir contended that the biggest obstacle to improving the status of women is their own indifference. “After the toll of four wars, many women would rather spend time with their families than improve their employment situation,” she said. She called upon the women leaders to assist in reaching the uneducated and actively participating in improving the status of women in Israel.

In other developments, the U. IA Women’s Division pledged to raise $50 million so that all Jews would “be blessed with the opportunity to live in freedom and dignity.” The pledge followed several days of intensive investigation of social conditions in some of Israel’s distressed neighborhoods. The women spent a week in Israel focusing on “Project Renewal,” the $1.2 billion social plan sponsored by world Jewry to reabsorb 45,000 poor immigrant families into the mainstream of Israeli society.

Deputy Premier Yigael Yadin, who spoke to the delegates, noted that Project Renewal “is the greatest challenge ever undertaken by Israel,” adding that the success of the project will heavily depend on diaspora Jewry. The group also met with President Yitzhak Navon and top educators and social workers during their stay in Israel.

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