A provision in the Arrangements Law proposes to raise the retirement age of women from 62 to 65, in an attempt to correct one of the world’s lowest retirement ages for women. This measure aims to achieve gender equality and promote employment for older women, but some claim that the measure will hurt women in lower-income jobs, forcing them to work for more years in difficult conditions. 

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In a joint letter released on Tuesday, Histadrut Chairman Arnon Bar-David and Hagit Pe’er, chairwoman of the Israeli women’s organization Na’amat, called on Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman to accompany the provision “with appropriate, complementary, adequately-funded tools that will support women who will be harmed by this change, remove obstacles, and advance gender equality in the job market.”

Bar-David and Pe’er emphasized that the Histadrut and Na’amat do not fundamentally oppose raising the women’s retirement age, which has been planned as part of the upcoming Arrangements Law, but demand protections for women who may be harmed by the process. 

Bar-David and Pe’er wrote: “Raising the women’s retirement age, along with the economic advantages, carries a hidden risk of causing substantial harm to many women, including women in physically-demanding professions and women who struggle to integrate or remain in the job market at advanced ages. For these women, raising the retirement age means delaying their eligibility for pensions, which they depend on for their livelihoods. And this is in addition to the harm these women have suffered as a result of the COVID19 pandemic.” 

Histadrut and Na’amat’s statement on the proposed increase to the retirement age include: 

  • Discussing the draft in a legislative process separate from the Arrangements Law (which must be agreed upon along with the  state budget). Raising the retirement age is a complicated process which demands thorough and processional discussion. 
  • Setting the retirement age without an automatic update mechanism according to the increase in the average life expectancy.
  • Setting the retirement age for women at 64.
  • Enacting the increase gradually over a period of ten years, in order to allow for necessary preparations. 
  • Adding research by the National Insurance Institute to the proposal.
  • Developing a complementary set of provisions to limit the harm caused to women who will be hurt by the increase in the retirement age. The provisions should be provided for in the state budget and include, among other measures: increasing the wage subsidy (negative income tax) for older women working at low-wage jobs; extending the length of eligibility for unemployment benefits for older women; allocating resources for professional training and programs specifically targeted towards older women.

Bar-David and Pe’er concluded their letter to the Finance Minister with a clause demanding increased gender equality in the job market.

“Raising the women’s retirement age must be accompanied by steps to increase gender equality in the job market, in a way that will help remove obstacles and guarantee women more years of working at higher wages and contributing to their pension funds,” they wrote.