Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver represented Israel at a Euro-Med conference dedicated to the status of women, held in Morocco this year, and was surprised to find that "even Morocco has 14 female ministers and we only have two."
Landver, who gave a speech in Hebrew and reported of the situation in Israel, told Ynet on Thursday, "Despite an improvement in the situation in recent years, we still have a log way to go."
Nonetheless, she stressed that over the past few years there have been "great achievements, both in terms of legislation and in terms of female representation in the Knesset."
Landver at conference (Photo: Courtesy of Immigrant Absorption Ministry)
The minister said she was received warmly and that the conference took place without any provocation or unusual incidents: "They greeted us in a splendid manner, and we all tried to focus on the status of women in talks. Even the Palestinian representative did not raise any political issues. I was excited to give a speech in Hebrew and I did it with much pride."
Despite the waves made by the controversial Goldstone Report on Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, the minister said the subject was not brought up in the conference and that all the participants made an effort not to stray from the subject at hand - the status of women.
Landver, who travelled to Morocco not in her capacity as immigrant absorption minister, but as a female representative of the Israeli government, did not meet with representatives of the Jewish community in the country. She said the strict security arrangements prevented her from traveling in the North African nation.
The minister said she was surprised to learn that in comparison to other countries in the world, as well as in comparison to Arab states, Israel falls behind in terms of female representation in government.
Nonetheless, she was proud to say in her speech that Israel has a special Committee on the Status of Women in Knesset and the Authority for the Advancement of the Status of Women in the Prime Minister's Office.
"The principle of equality dates back to the Declaration of Independence, and much has been done in the area of legislation. We have a female Opposition leader, we have a woman in the Supreme Court and a female representative in the UN," she said in her speech.
"We have a long way to go," she admitted, "but all countries can make faster progress when there is cooperation and the advancement of women becomes an easier goal. The disputes between countries take a toll on all matters related to promoting the status of women."