When it comes to women’s rights, Israel is leading by example. We understand that empowered women are the foundation of thriving societies. Israeli women haven’t just broken the glass ceiling, they have shattered it!
This week, I became a grandfather for the first time to a beautiful little girl. Baby Amit was born on March 8, International Women’s Day. As I held her for the first time, I thought about all the opportunities that I want her to have – to grow up and grow old, to love and be loved, to dream big and have the chance to realize her dreams.
I want my granddaughter to live in the world envisioned by Japanese author Osamu Dazai who said: "The term gender equality means that the status of men is raised to the status of women!"
The reality – as we know all too well – is that a baby girl born today will face inequality and discrimination, no matter where she grows up.
Almost twenty years ago, the representatives of 189 countries gathered in Beijing to address the pandemic of injustice afflicting half of the world’s people. The ideals that drove them still ring true today – that women’s rights are human rights and that the silver bullet of development is gender equality.
The evidence is overwhelming – countries with higher levels of gender equality have higher economic growth. Peace agreements that include women prove to be more successful. Parliaments with more women address a wider range of critical issues including health care and education.
Thanks to united international efforts, the overall condition of women around the world has improved. More girls are going to school. More women have entered the labor market. And more women have the right to vote than ever before.
Despite these gains, progress has not gone far enough or come fast enough. Around the world, women continue to be marginalized and minimized. We must also do more to stop violence against women. In the Middle East, the crimes are particularly appalling – from public stoning to acid attacks, and from child brides to honor killings.
Make no mistake: A community that is not safe for women is not safe for anyone. It is no coincidence that so many of the countries that threaten global security are the very places where women are deprived of dignity and opportunity.
I am proud to say that when it comes to women’s rights, Israel is leading by example. We understand that empowered women are the foundation of thriving societies.
Our 1948 Declaration of Independence – which incidentally, was signed by two women – promises equality to all our citizens. These aren’t just words on paper; these are words that we live by. The pioneers who founded Israel’s kibbutz movement built a society centered on cooperation and equality. Women contributed to every aspect of kibbutz society from the agricultural fields to the political field.
Since then, Israeli women have led the way in every field and endeavor from the courtrooms to the classrooms and from chambers of commerce to chambers of parliament.
In Israel, we know that women’s participation is a game changer. In recent years, Israel welcomed its first female Major General, elected a female chairman to our federal bank, and earlier this year, Miriam Naor was appointed President of Israel’s Supreme Court – the second woman to earn this distinction.
Israeli women haven’t just broken the glass ceiling, they have shattered it!
As a family of nations we must be the architects of the world that we want our children to inherit. I am sure that like me, you want your daughters and granddaughters to live in a world where all women can dress as they like, be educated as they choose, work where they wish, marry the person they love, raise their families as they see fit, and make the choices that will determine the course of their own lives.
It is our duty – every one of us, men and women alike, from every nation – to make this vision a reality. Let us create a world in which women have equal rights and opportunities. Let us create a world where women are respected and seen as equal partners. And let us create a world in which there are no limits to our daughters’ dreams and what they can achieve.
Thank you, Madam Chair.