EU-funded project targets sexual harassment in Israeli workplace

An EU-funded gender-equality project has reached 15,000 people working in Israeli government institutions and other major institutions to raise awareness of the issue of sexual harassment at work – something that affects 11.4 per cent of Israeli working women according to a recent government report.
The project – ‘Equality for Women in Israel: Adopting a Holistic Approach’ – was highlighted today by the EU Delegation in Israel to mark International Women’s Day. It aims at mitigating discrimination against women, both inside and outside the Israeli labour market, and at reducing prejudices and stereotypes that violate the equality and dignity of women in society. The project is implemented by Shatil, the New Israel Fund's Empowerment and Training Centre for Social Change Organisations
As part of the project, hundreds of workshops on sexual harassment were organised to make employees aware of their rights and to ensure that supervisors understand their responsibilities, including a designated point person to receive complaints and take official action, with participants acquiring the knowledge and skills necessary to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.
The workshops reached some 15,000 employers and employees in government institutions, the Israel Bar Association, Magen David Adom and other major institutions throughout the country.
"The contribution of Shatil in combating sexual harassment in the workplace and to gender equality in the workforce is truly remarkable,” said Michal Rosin, executive director of the Association of Rape Crisis Centres. “Shatil's work will have a dramatic affect on victims of sexual harassment."
As part of the project, Shatil created an inter-organizational action group including the Kayan feminist organisation, the Association of Rape Crisis Centres,  Tmura - the Israeli Anti-discrimination Legal Centre, and the Mahut Centre - Information, Guidance and Employment for Women.
This action group also contacted the Research and Economic Administration of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labour, leading the ministry to write a comprehensive report on the scope of sexual harassment at work in Israel, with an emphasis on its economic costs to the victims, the employers and to the Israeli economy.
In preparation for the report, a comprehensive study was conducted by the ministry, which in turn led to a model for calculating the economic costs of sexual harassment to the business sector, taking into account resulting absences, decreased productivity, changes in job positions and more. Furthermore, a first-of-its-kind survey was held to examine the scope of sexual harassment at work with an emphasis on its economic costs – with the ministry deciding to conduct the survey every two years, thereby creating a statistical basis enabling initiation and adaptation of programmes for the prevention of sexual harassment.
The report was published in January 2012 at a special conference held by the ministry. The main findings are that 11.4% of employed women, i.e. 165,000 women, report being sexually harassed at their workplace, with an economic cost to the Israeli economy of NIS 1 billion per year.
To mark International Women’s Day, 8 March, the ENPI Info Centre has put together a package of materials and resources to highlight cooperation between the EU and its southern neighbours in the field of gender equality, including a brand new feature story, a specially produced video, and a press pack. (ENPI Info Centre)
Read more
Press release
Shatil website
ENPI Info Centre resources – women’s day 2012
EuropeAid fact sheet – International Women's Day 2012
EU Delegation – Israel
EU Delegation in Israel – facebook page
ENPI Info Centre – Project report highlights poverty gap among Arab women in Israel

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