In the past decade, Israel has showcased remarkable growth and development across multiple sectors, solidifying its position as a progressive and dynamic nation. The nation’s road infrastructure, construction projects, and developments in public transportation (such as the train to/from Jerusalem) are visible testaments to this advancement. This progress is mirrored in its impressive GDP per capita growth of 75% since 2010 (IMF data), outshining even major economies like the US at 57%.
While GDP and economic expansion are pivotal indicators of success, the broader scope of a nation’s well-being is captured by the Social Progress Index (SPI). Comprising three dimensions – Basic Human Needs, Foundations of Wellbeing, and Opportunity – SPI delves into aspects often overlooked, revealing a more comprehensive image of a country’s growth or decline. In the latest SPI report for 2022, Israel garnered a commendable score of 83.17, securing the 31st position out of 169 countries assessed. Over the past decade, Israel’s score has increased by approximately four points, keeping it consistently around the 30th rank.
One notable dimension of SPI is Inclusiveness, a gauge of whether all individuals are afforded the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to society. Israel’s 2022 Inclusiveness score of 63.65 and subsequent 43rd global ranking reflect its position on this vital issue. Certainly, there are areas that warrant attention and improvement.
In the arena of gender equality, Israel has made strides, particularly in internet proficiency where women’s internet usage is on par with men’s. This equality must expand to other sectors. Recent data from the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics underscores that women constitute over half of the population but are underrepresented in leadership positions, holding just 32% of management roles. The situation is not much better in the startup ecosystem, where merely 34% of employees are women (see here). The glaring disparity between population demographics and women’s participation in influential roles underscores an area requiring focused attention.
Moreover, concerns are surfacing that Israel’s journey toward inclusiveness may be encountering roadblocks. Disturbing incidents of discrimination have emerged, casting a shadow over the nation’s progress. Events like young girls being relegated to the back of buses and women being denied entry due to certain passengers’ objections are deeply troubling. Although these actions have been met with condemnation from Israel’s Prime Minister, unfortunately, the spirit is being set by his own government, as one driver expressed it: “This is where you live and this is what’s happening in this country now.”
Political events and the prevailing social atmosphere have the potential to hinder the country’s inclusiveness goals. It is essential for leaders to recognize that inclusiveness is not a mere abstraction but a tangible foundation for future growth and a critical factor in Israel’s ongoing progress.
The country’s evolution is at a crossroads, where the trajectory of progress can either be fortified or eroded. To stem the tide of reversal, the Israeli government must take concrete actions of intolerance toward discrimination, steering the nation towards a future where every citizen is empowered to contribute their talents and expertise without impediment.