Following the UN’s annual Commission on the Status of Women, nine official documents were released, and out of all of them, Israel was the only nation out of the UN’s 193 members condemned for infringing on women’s rights.
According to reports, the document in question, titled “Situation of and assistance to Palestinian women,” claims that Israel’s occupation of the West Bank has caused “high levels of unemployment and poverty” for Palestinians, specifically women.
“Palestinian women and girls still face significant obstacles in accessing basic services, health care, psychosocial support, water and sanitation, justice institutions and economic opportunities,” reads the document.
Ynet News notes that Israel was the only country specifically named in the documents, and most of what they were being condemned for was the repercussions of the West Bank occupation. Still, Ynet News also reports that Israel ranked “57th out 137 for female political empowerment” in a 2014 World Economic Forum report, with the United States ranking 54th and Saudi Arabia ranking 117th.
Israel’s foreign ministry is firing back, however, defending their record on women in previous statements and calling out the UN for “hypocrisy.”
“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,” Israeil envoy Ron Proser said to the council days before the documents were released. “Our 1948 Declaration of Independence - which incidentally, was signed by two women - promises equality to all our citizens. 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.”
Anne Bayefsky, director of the Touro College Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust, issued a statement blasting the UN and comparing Israel to how other Middle Eastern nations treat women.
“Not Syria. Where government forces routinely employ rape and other sexual violence and torture against women as a tactic of war,” Bayefsky pointed out. “Not Saudi Arabia. Where women are physically punished if not wearing compulsory clothing. Not Sudan. Where domestic violence is not prohibited. There is no minimum age for “consensual” sex. Not Iran. Where every woman who registered as a presidential candidate in the last election was disqualified.”
Read the full UN report here.