On Thursday, the 20th of February, the Rights of Women at Work Clinic at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem held a workshop on gender mainstreaming, with representatives from civil rights organisations and academia, including Prof Sandra Fredman, Director of the Oxford Human Rights Hub at the Oxford Faculty of Law. The workshop discussed both ‘bottom up’ initiatives of gender mainstreaming initiated by Israeli civil rights orgasnisations, and the possibilities entailed in a ‘top down’ policy, as adopted by the UK. The workshop questioned the pros and cons of each in promoting gender mainstreaming.
Bottom up initiatives discussed included the gender mainstreaming of collective agreements, a project promoted by the Rights of Women at Work Clinic at the Hebrew University together with the growing Israeli trade union – Koach La’Ovdim. The aim of the project is to formulate a gender-based model of collective agreements. The model promotes women’s rights and parental rights, in order to create a better balance between family and work. Furthermore, the project emphasizes a cultural feminist approach, which refers to people as a whole and not just as a manufacturing force.
Another project is budget mainstreaming, launched by the Adva Center, with the aim of promoting the implementation of a gendered perspective in public policy and in the national budget. The goal is to promote social policies that contribute to the advancement of women and girls in Israel, through gender-sensitive budgeting. The project collaborates with parliament members and officials at national ministries in order to create public and parliamentary awareness of the gender implications of economic policies. It also offers courses to women in local authorities throughout Israel. These courses are designed to provide participants with information about economic issues and the link between economics and society, as well as the tools that will enable a gendered reading and analysis of the municipal budget.
Two further initiatives were presented at the workshop, both focusing on the organizational level of the firm, and questioning how to address culture and pay and promotion structures. The first initiative was established by the Israel Women’s Network in cooperation with the Israel’s National Electric Company, offering an operative model for the integration of women into traditionally male trades and positions, and also a strategic process of gender mainstreaming within the company’s internal policies and planning. The cooperation includes considering of gender equality in every policymaking decision within the company, putting special effort into promoting women to managerial positions, and training women in technical trades that in many cases are a requirement for promotion. The work is done together with senior management on developing strategies for recruitment, training, retention and advancement of women in their ranks.
The second initiative is an experience-based project which provides strategies and tools for challenging gendered practices within the workplace. The Gender Mainstreaming Hub at the Van-Leer Institute developed “Actor-Network Intervention Model”, which merges theoretical concepts of organizational change and gender studies with the real life organizational experiences of women. It provides for an analysis and understanding of how gendered practices operate and preserved over time, and develops strategies for change in promoting alternative practices and policy directions which are inclusive of and empowering to women. Women from an array of organizations and sectors have joined, exploring the concept and practices of becoming “social change agents” of gender equality and developing action plans for promoting gender equality within their workplaces.