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Women's Rights in Israel

In Israel, the battle for gender equality continues to rage. Despite being the third country in the world to have a female head of state, women were forced to sit at the back of the bus as recently as 2018. In the face of gender equality legislation, religious figures continue to promote and enforce gender segregation in public spaces.

Israel, a fairly new country in the Middle East, identifies as a democratic state. The country gained its independence in 1948, passing the Women’s Equal Rights Law in 1951 to ensure gender equality. The Israeli Declaration of Independence states that the nation “…will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex.” However, the Israeli government has found it difficult to combat gender segregation.

Women’s Rights in Israel Today

Presently, Israel ranks 25th on the Gender Inequality Index. Although the Israeli Declaration of Independence sought to establish gender equality, there has been an increasing demand for enforcing gender segregation in public spaces by Ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities. There have been instances in which women have been denied access to a public bus for wearing shorts deemed “immodest.” In many situations, if women can access a bus, they are forced to sit in the back. In some universities, women are even forced to drink from separate water fountains.

Many lawsuits in Israel have been filed in the name of gender inequality. Although gender segregation in cemeteries is illegal, the Israeli government and the Ministry of Religious Affairs do not uphold the law. As a result, women sit separately from their male family members and are not permitted to be a part of funeral ceremonies.

Women hold esteemed positions in Israeli society. As of 2017, women comprised 59% of the university student population and  53% of the Ph.D. student population. Israel’s Supreme Court has had three female presidents, with women comprising 54% of judges in Israel as of 2017.

Despite the prevalence of female leaders, female lawmakers have been deemed “indecent” by their religious associates and admonished for wearing sleeveless dresses. Although the majority of college degrees are held by women, women academics are not allowed to instruct ultra-Orthodox men at universities. Female lawyers are seated separately and at the back of the room for training programs. Female army cadets are separated from their male counterparts by partition during graduation ceremonies. However, several organizations are advocating for equal treatment.

The Future of Women’s Rights in Israel

Many organizations are fighting for gender equality in Israel. For example, the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) fights gender segregation and religious extremism. IRAC has made great progress in the field of anti-segregation legislation, including filing a class action suit against public radio stations for refusing to put women on-air. IRAC’s work has also lead to a Supreme Court ruling making gender segregation on public transportation illegal.

Founded in 1984, The Israel Women’s Network advocates for gender equality through education and awareness. They are currently advocating against gender segregation in public transportation and gender violence. The Women of the Wall are fighting to secure women’s religious rights to pray at the Western Wall through education, empowerment, and advocacy. When gender equality laws will be upheld, the visions for gender equality can be achieved.

The Future is Equality

As the first woman to serve as president of the Israeli Supreme Court, Dorit Beinisch said, “We are commanded to act with tolerance and to promote the protection of human rights.”

The gap between the visions for gender equality and the reality women face is vast. Gender inequality is crucial to the advancement of Israel and the rest of the world, being essential to peace and development. Ultimately, the work of organizations such as IRAC and The Israel Women’s Network continues to empower women and allows Israel to look toward a brighter future.

– Tara Hudson
Photo: Pixabay

children in palestine
Palestine is a country located in the Middle East, off the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Its boundaries are disputed but include the major territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Palestine has a population of over five million people, with almost two million living in the over-populated Gaza Strip and three million in the West Bank.

The ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict has played a detrimental part in the livelihoods of 2.4 million Palestinians, denying them access to necessities such as health care, stable housing and education. The 13-year blockade on Gaza has restricted freedom of movement for inhabitants in Gaza, limiting one million children of Palestine access to basic commodities found in Israel. Children are subject to shocking levels of violence on the way to and from school, during school and even in their own homes. Every year, the Israeli military detains and prosecutes around 700 Palestinian children, many of whom commit mild crimes, such as throwing rocks during demonstrations.

Much of Palestine consists of young people, about 53% of its population is made up of children under the age of 18. In every society, including Palestine’s, the children are the most valued members; dreams are built with the hopes of manifesting a better future for the youth who have a potential that is yet to be realized. Here are four ways to invest in the children of Palestine to help them attain the right to a safe and just future.

4 Ways to Invest in the Children of Palestine

  1. Participate in Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) – The Palestinian BDS is a movement for freedom, justice and equality, protecting the principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of the world. It endorses nonviolent protest on Israel until the state complies with international law, which includes ending the violence on and detainment of Palestinian children. BDS entails boycotting goods from well-known companies, such as HP, Puma and Sabra, all of which are complicit in violations of Palestinian children’s’ rights. Divestment and sanctions campaigns urge banks, churches, universities, local councils and governments to withdraw aid and investments from Israel and all companies that uphold the state’s noncompliance with international law.
  2. Sponsor a child – There are a number of nonprofits that give people the opportunity to sponsor one of many Palestinian children and invest in their futures. Organizations such as Humanium and SOS Children’s Villages look to provide children with a safe living environment, education, emotional and mental support, as well as access to healthcare services. These organizations also fight injustices aimed specifically at Palestinian children, such as child labor and marriage.
  3. Support legislation – Much good work comes from initiatives such as the Promoting Human Rights for Palestinian Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act (H.R.2407). This bill, proposed by Minnesota Democrat Rep. Betty McCollum, prohibits the use of U.S. foreign assistance funds to support the military detainment, interrogation, and ill-treatment of children in violation of international law. It also prohibits funds from being used to support certain practices against children, including sensory deprivation, solitary confinement and torture. It is important for U.S. citizens to speak up on behalf of Palestinian children, to let their voices be heard by urging Congress to take action against these injustices via phone calls, emails, and lobbying meetings.
  4. Stay informed –  Several initiatives aim to improve conditions for the children of Palestine. UNICEF, for example, plans to work closely with partners to provide children with safe drinking water, solar power, improved latrines, sanitation services and access to school WASH facilities. The nonprofit will continue to prioritize strengthening child protection systems, addressing negative coping mechanisms and supporting neonatal and postnatal care. The organization will also ensure that children benefit from improved access to quality learning in safe and inclusive environments, and are empowered to contribute to their society’s development.

Youths are not only the future, but they are also the present. The children of Palestine have a right to a safe and just life, where persisting conflict and a lack of human rights do not define their potential. It is important that citizens of the developed world play an active role in investing in these young people and helping empower them so that they can graduate from a life riddled with conflict and violence, to a fulfilling, more sustainable one.

– Sarah Uddin
Photo: Flickr

 

 

life expectancy in Jordan

Jordan is an Arab country in West Asia with a population of more than 10 million people and a life expectancy of 74 years. Although some in Jordan face health and economic struggles, efforts are in place to raise the average life expectancy rate. Here are seven facts about life expectancy in Jordan.

7 Facts about Life Expectancy in Jordan

  1. As of 2017, road injuries ranked number nine of 10 factors causing the most deaths in Jordan. In 2007, road injuries ranked much higher at sixth, as there were 110,630 road accidents and 992 fatalities. That statistic increased from 1987’s 15,884 accidents. In response to these 2007 numbers, the Jordanian government applied new traffic laws in 2008 and increased police activity, which, ultimately, boosted life expectancy.
  2. Air pollution is in the top 10 risk factors of death and disability combined in Jordan. In urban areas, 50-90 percent of Jordan’s air pollution comes from road traffic, and based on a report in 2000, air pollution causes around 600 premature deaths each year. The main factor of poor air quality is lead-based gasoline used in cars, emitting lead pollution. In 2006, the government introduced two types of unleaded petrol for cars. However, air pollution was still a leading cause of death in 2017.
  3. Noncommunicable diseases are on the rise in Jordan. Even though these diseases cannot be transmitted to others, they remain some of the most common causes of death. From 2007 to 2017, Ischemic heart disease continued to be the number one cause of death for Jordanians and diabetes moved up from fifth to fourth. As of 2017, strokes ranked second.
  4. Chronic illnesses are some of the most common diseases in Jordan. Approximately one-third of Jordanians over 25 have a chronic illness or suffer from more than one. Reported chronic illnesses are largely caused by the practice of smoking tobacco. Out of the entire population, 38.2 percent use tobacco, including 65.5 percent of males over 15. If the amount of smokers does not decrease in the future, it will negatively impact the mortality rates and overall life expectancy in Jordan.
  5. Jordanian’s access to healthcare and insurance is increasing every year. From 2000 to 2016, on average, the percent of those insured increased by an average of 1.2 percent. Overall, 70 percent of Jordanians are insured. All children under six and citizens older than 60 are eligible for insurance with Jordan’s public healthcare sector as well. Primary healthcare clinics are available in both urban and rural areas, and those with insurance receive free medication.
  6. The Jordanian government developed a national electronic medical library (ELM). The ELM gives students and healthcare workers free access to medical resources to encourage and increase the number of people pursuing a career in medicine. The government hopes that the ELM will help increase the availability of healthcare and allow the medical industry in Jordan to flourish in the future.
  7. Mercy Corps has been supporting Jordanians since 2003. The organization has 250 workers in the country. Mercy Corps not only provides basic needs but also long-term solutions, such as working to reduce tensions between leaders in communities. Mercy Corps has helped more than 3,000 vulnerable households with costs to meet urgent needs and in 2017 alone, more than one million Jordanians benefitted from their work.

Although certain health and economic issues are prominent, Jordan is making improvements to its quality of living. The government is taking the initiative to move the country forward, economically and medically, which can only mean an increase in life expectancy in Jordan in the future.

– Jordan Miller
Photo: Unsplash

 

Causes of Poverty in IsraelOf the 34 member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Israel ranks twenty-sixth poorest when discussing gross income, or before government intervention. However, when poverty is discussed in net terms or income after government intervention, it is ranked second-poorest. According to a report by the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel, 31 percent of the country is living below the poverty line. Why is there such a discrepancy and what are the causes of poverty in Israel? There are a number of reasons.

  1. System of allowances
    The first of the causes of poverty in Israel is its system of allowances. While Israel, compared to other countries, collects a significant amount of income from the wealthy in the form of taxes, it lacks in its system of allowances. The government’s influence in curtailing poverty is at around 30 percent. Other countries’ participation is at around 60. Of the allowance payments made by the government, most are handled efficiently. Part of the solution lies in more system of allowances by the government.
  2. Low participation in labor market
    Another one of the causes of poverty in Israel comes from low participation in the labor market, specifically with two minority groups: ultra-Orthodox Jews and Arab Israelis. As of 2011, only 48 percent of ultra-Orthodox Jewish men and 28 percent of Arab-Israeli women were employed.According to a report by the Bank of Israel in 2015, “the dilemma [of poverty] becomes greater because about half of the poor in Israel belong to the ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) community – a population sector that attributes great value to devoting time to studying the Holy Scriptures – and the traditional Muslim community, in which there are cultural restrictions on the employment of women.”For these cultural reasons, some of the ultra-religious in Israel choose not to search for jobs and therefore fall into poverty. This is also one of the reasons why the government’s influence on curtailing poverty is so low; it believes it will encourage living on allowances instead of looking for other means of income.

These main contributors work in conjunction to create a difficult environment for the government to control poverty. Between the low participation in the labor market and therefore lower system of allowances by the Israeli government, the population has suffered from impoverished conditions.

To combat these issues, the OECD has offered some recommendations that will hopefully decrease the poverty rate, the first of which includes increasing competition and efficiency in the domestic economy. An OECD survey noted that the banking industry is inefficient and concentrated.  Therefore, should allow the entry of new competitors into the market, particularly in non-banking credit entities.

Another way to improve the apparent disparity in the labor market is to boost “investment in infrastructure and promoting skills, particularly among disadvantaged groups [which] can both enhance social cohesion and raise long-term growth.” One of the last recommendations given was improving education for those disadvantaged groups like Arab women and the Haredi population so that they may increase their income levels and contribute to the economy.

Sydney Roeder

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in the Palestinian TerritoriesDue to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the people of the Palestinian territories are under a tremendous amount of stress. Adding to their troubles is the fact that citizens also have to worry about the risk of contracting certain diseases.

The most common diseases in the Palestinian territories are non-communicable; cancer and cardiovascular disease are especially common. Although there is not a lot of data on the matter, there is still enough to explain that these diseases are a serious problem. According to research, lung cancer is the cancer that is most responsible for male deaths in the Palestinian territories. Statistics also state that heart disease causes 26 percent of deaths there. While cardiovascular disease and cancer may be caused by people’s family histories and lifestyles, they remain an issue partially caused by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The division between the West Bank and Gaza makes access to healthcare more difficult to acquire for the people of the Palestinian territories. To cross the border, individuals need approved permits that allow them to do so. To make the process even more difficult, Israeli security services sometimes ask the patients to attend an interview in order to be granted access. The slow procedure of obtaining a permit results in health conditions worsening as the people wait for the opportunity to receive treatment.

Although the Israeli-Palestinian conflict provides the people with some obstacles, there have also been some advancements made. In 2015, Israeli authorities declared that men over 55 years and women over 50 years in age do not need permits. This caused the permit approval rate for West Bank patients to rise about five percent from the previous year. With improvements like this being made, healthcare access will hopefully continue to become more available and common diseases in the Palestinian territories – like cardiovascular disease and cancer – will become less common.

Raven Rentas

Photo: Google

Common Diseases in IsraelIsrael is a small country in the Middle East with immense significance to several religious groups including Jews, Christians and Muslims. Benjamin Netanyahu currently serves as the prime minister to more than 8 million Israeli citizens.

Israel has made tremendous progress in combating diseases in recent years. According to The Jerusalem Post, death rates from cancer, cardiovascular diseases and stroke “have declined by 80 percent since the middle of the 1970s.” While this is of course excellent news, there is still a lot of work left to be done. Here are some facts regarding common diseases in Israel:

Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is a viral liver disease that very infrequently leads to death, but does make the afflicted person ill. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges that travelers heading to Israel receive the vaccine prior to their trip. This disease is transmitted by consuming contaminated food or water.

Diabetes
Diabetes is another common disease in Israel, ranking as the third and fourth most common cause of death among women and men, respectively. Despite the nation’s small size, Israel is a leader in improving conditions for those afflicted with diabetes. DreaMed Diabetes, a company founded in 2014 by American and Israeli researchers, uses algorithms to analyze and improve insulin therapy. The hope is that the company’s research will allow those with diabetes to have better control over the disease.

Cancer
As previously mentioned, Israel has made great strides in combating cancer in the past several decades. However, these strides forward are not being evenly felt throughout the country. According to Haaretz, cancer death rates in the peripheral areas of Israel are 8 percent higher than in the geographical center of the country. Some groups of people have more success at fighting cancer than others. Professor Lital Keinan-Boker, the deputy director of the Health Ministry’s Center for Disease Control, told Haaretz that these discrepancies are likely the result of differences in awareness and usage of early detection technologies. Each year, roughly 11,000 Israelis die from some form of cancer.

Hepatitis A, diabetes and cancer are three common diseases in Israel. Progress has certainly been made, and that is extremely encouraging. Nonetheless, these diseases continue to affect much of Israel and its people.

Adam Braunstein

Israel Poverty Rates
Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would not only deter violent radicalism and terrorism but also reduce Israel’s poverty rates by opening the door to prosperity and human rights for all citizens. Israel is densely populated with 8.5 million people, one-fifth of whom are Arab. While 14% of Jewish Israelis are poor, 55% of Arabs live below the poverty line.

The divide over Gaza is one of many issues plaguing the peace process in Israel. A 2008 airstrike on Gaza damaged many houses and buildings, displacing thousands of Palestinian families. Mostly populated by Palestinians, Gaza is currently under Israeli blockade, cutting off necessities such as electricity, food and medicine.

On average, Arabs make half of what Jewish workers make and are less likely to hold a job. The limited access to power and electricity in Gaza leaves a majority of the 600,000 families unemployed and hungry. Unemployment rates are at an all-time low in Israel. Yet, 70% of those working earn less than average salaries. On the bright side, Israel established a joint initiative with large companies to hire more Israeli-Arabs in 2016, opening better career opportunities to 500 Arabs.

Israel’s poverty rates are affecting future generations. One in three children lives below the poverty line, causing lifelong consequences to health, brain development, nutrition and educational attainment. While school years have increased over time, the quality of education is still low because teachers earn low wages.

So far, American-mediated efforts to help resolve the conflict failed because Israel continues expanding West Bank settlements, Palestinians remain politically divided, and the path to constructive dialogue between Israeli-Arabs and Israeli-Jews is unclear.

The lack of peace is increasing Israel’s poverty rates and an unstable economic situation in West Bank and Gaza. World Bank Country Director for West Bank and Gaza Marina Wes says that Gaza stands “on the verge of a human catastrophe.” All sides need to focus on relief combined with a commitment to financial support from the international community to bring about real changes.

Jennifer Mcallister

Photo: Flickr

Palestine Poverty Rate
Israeli blockades, land restrictions and a drop in foreign aid have ensured that Palestine’s poverty rate remains high, according to reports from the U.N. and the World Bank. However, new Israeli policies give Palestine some hope.

Palestine’s poverty rate is at 25%, and, among the youth, it is at 56%, which is the highest youth poverty rate in the world. Unemployment is at 40%, and last year 1,100 people were left homeless. While the population has increased steadily, the economy has not improved much. Over the last decade, the GDP growth rate has not exceeded 1.44%, but the population rose by 38.4%. Additionally, the business sector has lost between 50 and 60% of their pre-2014 assets, production, exports and employment.

Israeli policy is primarily responsible for Palestine’s poverty rate. Israel has blockaded the Gaza region for the 11th year in a row.  The Israeli government has also declared a third of the arable land in the area and half of Gaza’s fishing waters to be high-risk no-go zones. Additionally, last year Israel destroyed 780 Palestinian homes.

Palestine has not received much of the foreign aid that was pledged to it. The U.S. pledged $3.5 billion in 2014 but is far behind its aid plan, as 51% of the money has been disbursed. The U.S. drew up a recovery plan, but only 17% of the $3.9 billion of the recovery plan’s funds have been allocated to financial needs in the area. Moreover, 1.6 million tons of construction materials, which is only seven percent of what is necessary, was brought to Gaza since the 2014 summer war.

Israel has taken steps to better relations in the region. The Israeli government is instituting a plan to rebuild and reconstruct Palestine to combat Palestine’s poverty rate. Israel’s Ministry of Foreign affairs reported that 100,513 homes have been repaired and that 2,733 have been rebuilt. This plan will hopefully heal the political divide in the region.

While Palestine’s poverty rate remains high, political tensions ensure a stagnant economy and there is little incoming foreign aid, there may be room for a political compromise in the future. The international community remains dedicated to easing the situation in Palestine, ending the Israeli blockade around Gaza and ending land restrictions. With the help of the international community and more support from the Israeli government, Palestine’s poverty rate could drop significantly.

Bruce Edwin Ayres Truax

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Israel
Israel has a population of about 1.7 million people. Poverty in Israel affected about 22 percent of those people in 2014, which included 1,709,300 people, 444,900 families and 776,500 children. These rates have been rising ever since. This same year, the depth of poverty index, which refers to the gap between family income and the poverty line, also rose by about six percent. Poverty in Israel ranks second highest among OECD countries, just behind Mexico.

Little is done to combat poverty in Israel because the poor are of little interest to the government. The government’s main concern is with promoting the rich and the middle class in the country. The suffering of thousands poses a threat to the social resilience of the country, which means the government must take action.

Families with children are more likely to live in poverty in Israel due to the decrease in allowances. They are being stripped of these rights and in turn, Israel ranks fourth for highest child poverty rates.

These poverty rates can be linked back to several causes: low wages and unemployment rates in particular. It is possible that poor education is the root of these low wages and unemployment rates along with the already impoverished state of the country. The high cost of food, gas, utilities and rent are forcing more people into poverty in Israel. Emergency food has become an increasing demand as prices rise.

The Israeli government has created a couple of goals to reduce poverty after the National Insurance Institute released a report. The country’s Finance Minister, Moshe Kahlon, decided to revamp the corporate tax rates and give government aid to poor families. The corporate tax rate was cut by 1.5 percent by the cabinet, who unanimously approved this in November.

In addition, Israel has discussed the introduction of a welfare system that could bring income and take 187,000 people out of poverty. These efforts are promising but still not grand enough to save all of Israel. To make an impact, the country must focus on reorganizing its education system, and the government needs to take interest in the poor citizens, not just in the higher class.

Katelynn Kenworthy

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Israel
Poverty in Israel is widespread despite the nation’s booming economy. Approximately 22 percent of the population, or one in five Israelis, live in poverty according to a report by the National Insurance Institute in 2015. Among developed nations, Israel has the highest poverty rate, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The statistics on poverty differ depending on family structure. As the report establishes, families with children are more likely to be in poverty, with the rate holding at about 23 percent. Such is especially true for single-parent families or families with only one working parent. The rates also differ based on population group, with ultra-Orthodox families seeing a poverty rate of about 49 percent and Arab families about 53 percent.

Furthermore, a discrepancy exists due to age, with approximately 30 percent of children and 22 percent of the elderly living in poverty. Leket Israel food bank CEO Gidi Kroch said, “Israel is the poorest of the Western countries, with the widest gaps between the rich and the poor — a situation where the weakest populations, the elderly and children are suffering the most.”

Although the causes of such poverty are mixed, it can be attributed in part to low wages and employment rates, which may stem from poor education. In response to this impoverishment, the Israeli government has introduced a number of measures. Child benefits and the minimum wage have both been increased, leading to an advance in familial income. As for the elderly, welfare and disability allowances have also increased.

However, Israel’s welfare minister Haim Katz contends that welfare and tax benefit increases are not drastic enough. Average salary, as Katz points out, does not determine welfare benefits. He plans on changing this, declaring: “If we linked income support to average salaries we would immediately remove 187,000 from poverty.”

In addition to adapting the welfare system, the Israeli government should pursue a better standard of education. Regardless of which measures the government pursues, it is evident that poverty in Israel must be addressed immediately. “If things continue as they are,” Israeli economist Dan Ben-David reports, “we are heading to a third-world economy.”

Gigi DeLorenzo

Photo: Flickr