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0202 – Points of View from Jerusalem


“Preventing Gender Segregation is Harmful to Haredi Women // Omer Yankelovich, Attorney

'The path to hell is paved with good intentions' was demonstrated today in the labor court’s decision to cancel a Haredi diplomat training course, run by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The course was supposed to be run separately for men and women, and its cancellation was stipulated when ten Haredi women were added to the male course. […] In addition, the activists continue battling gender segregation in Haredi academic programs, claiming that they are fighting for the Haredi women’s interests.

I’d like to believe that their stance is a mistake based on a lack of a basic understanding of Haredi society and its women. The result is clear: There is no move which injures Haredi women more than this. Whoever truly cares for Haredi woman, or any woman, understands that the path is through helping her acquire tools which will allow her to gain knowledge and develop herself culturally, socially, and professionally.

Dear Women's Lobbyists,
It’s time to tell you this loud and clear: You are harming Haredi women. Without [gender] separation, these women will lose the ability to receive academic education. They will not be able to move forward, to become lawyers, accountants and tour guides. You are not promoting equality for women, but rather fighting inherent Haredi cultural values. Separate academia is, thus, crucial for the advancement of Haredi women.

I, too, after years as a teacher, became a lawyer through a segregated education program. Without that opportunity, I – and thousands of other women – would not have become lawyers and engineers, but rather would have remained homemakers or teachers. There is not an inkling of truth in the claim that the separate programs discriminate against women. This isn’t a bus, where it can be argued whether sitting in the front is more comfortable. Here are two identical programs, except that they take place at different times or in different locations. […] Separation isn’t discrimination. The fact that men and women aren’t together, does not mean that either side is discriminated against.

I’ve heard the argument that there are Haredi women who are not interested in separation. But Haredi women who want mixed studies can find them in any academic program they choose. Apart from them, stand thousands of women with no alternative. They will never choose to learn in a non-segregated environment. You are burying, in a paternalistic battle, the promotion of so many women, instead of fighting for them.

Why honor the Haredi demand for separation? Because those are the values of this society. A true pluralist and liberal respects the values of others. You cannot, in the name of pluralism, compel someone to abandon his beliefs. A person who forces his values on others is not a liberal fighting for rights, he is close-minded fanatic.”

– Kikar HaShabat

For other 0202 posts about Haredi women, see:
https://bit.ly/2EIew7M, https://bit.ly/2JGwr2o

#Women #Haredi_Women #Academia #Gender_Segregation #Society