Whining won’t make women into leaders, Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis said in a speech Tuesday, in honor of International Women’s Day.
“You want to mark [the day], and that’s perfectly fine, and I’m going with the flow,” Akunis began.
MKs interjected that he was not respecting the topic of the discussion, and Akunis, who was filling in for Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel, responded: “Being a feminist isn’t about saying ‘It’s not fair’ all the time. It’s about doing things.”
Real feminists, the minister argued, are former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, former Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi and US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley.
“Learn from them,” Akunis said. “Change your old-fashioned attitudes. If you continue whining, you won’t be leaders.”
Several MKs demonstrably stormed out of the plenum.
Akunis later said he was sorry if anyone was offended by his remarks.
Following the incident, Yesh Atid MK Aliza Lavie wrote a letter to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein asking that a female minister speak at future plenum discussions of International Women’s Day.