The Men Cry at Night

Many organizations are dedicated to women's rights, but what about discrimination against men?

If you want to kill yourself, you don't have to work too hard, just write a critical article about any subject related to women, and immediately the women's organizations will attack you from all sides, declare you are a male chauvinistic pig and condemn you to the slaughter - metaphorically speaking.

What can you do when the subject is a burning issue that demands a response? The women's organizations are applying massive pressure to politicians to prevent the retirement age for women being raised to 64. As a result of the pressure a committee to discuss the issue has been set up.

Women march Tel Aviv- Moti Kimche
Moti Kimche

Until 2004, the retirement age for women was 60 and for men 65. but it turned out that the Histradrut labor federation pension funds were on the verge of bankruptcy, and the state's pension obligations endangered the budget. A solution was found - nationalization of the pension funds and upping the retirement age for men and women. In July 2004, a process began in which the retirement age for women is gradually being raised to 64 and for men to 67.

The women's organizations aren't pleased. They agree to increasing the retirement age for women to 62 (the present retirement age ), but not to 64. Note that a woman is allowed to retire at the age of 62, but is not required to do so. If she so desires, she can go on working until the age of 67, a significant privilege that men do not enjoy.

Talia Livni, president of the women's organization Na'amat, says older women find themselves outside the job market. If they are forced to wait for their old-age allowance and their pension payment until the age of 64, she says, they will find themselves doomed to "a life of poverty."

What about the men? Who represents them? Don't men work at jobs that lead to burnout, such as construction and industry? Aren't they discriminated against in the job market because of age? Aren't they doomed to "a life of poverty"? Why do they have to work until the age of 67, thereby subsidizing the pension for women?

Natural justice says otherwise. The life expectancy for women in Israel is 83, while that for men is 79. In other words, women benefit from another four years with a pension, and therefore they have to work longer than men, to pay for those four years.

Since I'm afraid of the women's organizations, I won't claim that men should retire before women. I will say that the retirement age should be equalized. We can propose that both sexes retire at the age of 66. We should also work vigorously to equalize wages between men and women. If an employer knows that a certain woman is unwilling to work overtime, or that she will retire five years before a man, that will certainly reduce her chances of promotion to senior positions, and will therefore harm her salary.

A few days ago, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development published its annual pension report. It recommends extending the work years of both men and women. The reason: increasing life expectancy. That is why France recently raised the retirement age by two years.

The OECD checked and found that due to early retirement and an increase in life expectancy, today the number of years during which men receive a pension (from retirement to death ) is 16.5 on average, whereas for women life expectancy with a pension reaches 21.6 years - a gap of five years in their favor. Why do they - and not the men - feel shortchanged?

The OECD recommends raising the retirement age for men to 66.6 and for women to 65. Here the recommendation is already being implemented for men; why not implement it for women, too?

Women's struggle to achieve equality is deserving of support. It was accelerated in the mid-19th century, with the social revolution that espoused the value of equality. Here it became significant in the 1970s, with the establishment of organizations that work to promote women's rights.

But equal rights go together with equal obligations. That is why we should take a cue from countries in which equality between men and women is greatest: Scandinavia. There the retirement age for women ranges from 64 to 66.

Although Na'amat is responsible for promoting women's issues, one doesn't have to be a male chauvinist pig to understand that in this case not only is there no negative discrimination against women, there is even reverse discrimination.