Women in Israel
|Gender Inequality Index|
|Rank||132 out of 146|
|Maternal mortality (per 100,000)||7 (2008)|
|Women in parliament||20.0% (2012)|
|Females over 25 with secondary education||82.7% (2010)|
|Women in labour force||52.5% (2011)|
|Global Gender Gap Index|
|Rank||56th out of 135|
The contemporary roles and status of women in Israel are based on social, historical, political, military, legislative, and religious factors. The number of Israeli women occupying positions in politics has increased since 1993. One prominent Israeli female exemplar was Golda Meir who became a Prime Minister for the State of Israel. Present-day Israeli women hold positions such as city mayor, council members, Supreme Court justices, District Court justices, State Attorney, Members of Knesset and Ministers. Although the law prohibits discrimination based on gender, there are complaints of significant wage disparities between men and women. Societal discrimination and domestic violence against women has been identified as a significant problem, particularly in the Israeli Bedouin society.
Women's rights 
Women in Israel have been guaranteed gender equality since the establishment of the state in 1948. This has enabled women to actively participate in Israeli life. The Israeli Declaration of Independence states: “The State of Israel (…) will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex.”
Israel was the third country in the world to be led by a female prime minister, Golda Meir, and in 2010, women's parliamentary representation in Israel was 18 percent, which is above the Arab world's average of 6 percent and equals that of the U.S. Congress. Still, it trails far behind the Scandinavian countries' 40 percent average
The Israeli parliament, The Knesset, has established “The Committee on the Status of Women,” to address women’s rights. The stated objectives of this committee are to prevent discrimination, combat violence against women, and promote equality in politics, lifecycle events and education. In 1998, the Knesset passed a law for "Prevention of Sexual Harassment".
Marriage and divorce laws 
Since the establishment of the state, Israeli law gives jurisdiction for matters of personal status, including marriage and divorce, to the rabbinical courts. In these courts, which operate according to halakha (Torah law), a Jewish woman is allowed to initiate divorce proceedings, but her husband must give his consent to make the divorce final. If the husband disappears or refuses to grant the divorce, the wife is considered an "agunah" (lit. "chained woman") and may not remarry or give birth to halakhically legitimate children. Rabbinical tribunals may, and sometimes do, sanction a husband who refused divorce, but still do not grant a divorce without his consent.
A Muslim woman may petition for and receive a divorce through the Sharia courts without her husband's consent under certain conditions, and a marriage contract may provide for other circumstances in which she may obtain a divorce without her husband's consent. A Muslim man may divorce his wife without her consent and without petitioning the court.
Christians may seek official separations or divorces, depending on the denomination, through ecclesiastical courts.
Rights of Arab women 
Arab-Israeli women actively participate in government and public life. Nadia Hilou was the second Israeli-Arab woman to serve in the Knesset.
Participation in government 
Since the founding of the State of Israel, relatively few women have served in the Israeli government, and fewer still have served in the leading ministerial offices. While Israel is one of a small number of countries where a woman—Golda Meir—has served as Prime Minister, it is behind most Western countries in the representation of women in both the parliament and government.
As of 2004[update], women comprised 15% of Israel's 120-member Knesset, placing it 66th of 121 countries in which women are included in the legislature. For comparison, the female ratio in Scandinavia is over 40%, the European Union average is 17.6%, while in the Arab world it is 6.4%. Female representation varies significantly by demographics: most female politicians have represented secular parties, while very few have come from religious Jewish or Arab parties.
In January 1986 Israeli female teacher Leah Shakdiel was granted membership in the religious council of Yeruham, but the Minister of Religious Affairs Zvulun Hammer canceled her membership on the grounds that women should not serve in that capacity. In early 1987 a petition was submitted to the Israeli Supreme Court regarding this incident. The Supreme Court precedent-setting ruling was unanimously accepted in Shakdiel's favor, and in 1988 Shakdiel became the first woman in Israel to serve in a religious council.
Women in the military 
Israel is the only country in the world with a mandatory military service requirement for women. Women have taken part in Israel’s military before and since the founding of the state in 1948, with women currently comprising 33% of all IDF soldiers and 51% of its officers, fulfilling various roles within the Ground, Navy and Air Forces. The 2000 Equality amendment to the Military Service law states that "The right of women to serve in any role in the IDF is equal to the right of men." 88% of all roles in the IDF are open to female candidates, while women can be found in 69% of all positions.
In November 8, 1995, while she was a student of aeronautics at the Technion as part of the academic reserve, Alice Miller appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court after being turned down for the pilot selection phase in the Israeli Air Force flight academy. Following her appeal, Israeli president Ezer Weizman, a former IAF commander, made chauvinistic comments that ridiculed the idea of women as fighter pilots: "Listen maideleh, have you ever seen a man knitting socks? Have you ever seen a female surgeon or a female being a conductor of an orchestra? Women are not able to withstand the pressures required for fighter pilots." The Israeli Supreme Court eventually ruled in 1996 that the IAF could not exclude qualified women from pilot training. Even though Miller did not pass the exams, the ruling was a watershed, opening doors for women in the IDF. Following the petition, formerly all-male military units began accepting women, including the Israeli Air Force flight academy, the Israeli navy officers' course, various artillery courses, the Israeli air defense and the Israeli Border Police. The Equality Amendment to the Military Service law, enacted in January 2000, completed the Supreme Court ruling as it defined the right of female soldiers to volunteer for combat professions. This law stated that "The right of women to serve in any role in the IDF is equal to the right of men." The amendment drafted by female lawmakers granted equal opportunities to women found physically and personally suitable for a job. The question of who and what was "suitable" was left to the discretion of military leaders on a case-by-case basis.
Women began to apply for combat support and light combat roles in the Artillery Corps, infantry units and armored divisions. The Caracal Battalion was formed which allowed men and women to serve together in light infantry. Many women joined the Border Police. Many Israeli women were accepted to the pilot selection phase in the Israeli Air Force flight academy some completed it successfully. The first female jet fighter pilot, Roni Zuckerman, received her wings in 2001. By 2006, the first female pilots and navigators graduated from the IAF training course, and several hundred women entered combat units, primarily in support roles, like intelligence gatherers, instructors, social workers, medics and engineers. When the Second Lebanon War broke out, women took part in field operations alongside men. Airborne helicopter engineer Sgt.-Maj. (res.) Keren Tendler was the first female IDF combat soldier to be killed in action. In November 2007 the Air Force appointed its first woman deputy squadron commander.
Nevertheless, there are still positions in the IDF that are off limits to women. In 2003 Yaara Stolberg filed a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court against the IDF's decision not to allow women to serve in the Machbet anti-aircraft unit. About six months after Stolberg completed her two year mandatory military service, the court denied the petition, stating it has become "irrelevant and theoretical".
On 23 June 2011, Orna Barbivai became the first female Major-General in the IDF upon her promotion to the role of commander of the Manpower Directorate. She is the second woman to serve on the General Staff.
In response to several incidents where Orthodox Jewish soldiers objected to women singing during military ceremonies, the IDF Chief of Staff's office ruled that soldiers may not walk out of military assemblies to protest women singing, but may request to be excused from cultural events on those grounds. In October 2011, female soldiers were asked to leave an official event marking the end of the Simhat Torah holiday and dance in a separate area. In November 2011, 19 retired generals sent a letter to Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, urging them not to cave in to the demands of religious soldiers.
Mehadrin buses 
In Orthodox Judaism, there are certain situations in which gender separation is practiced for religious and social reasons, with strict rules on mingling of men and women. Before they were banned in 2011, Mehadrin bus lines operated along routes with large Haredi populations, with seats in the front reserved for men passengers only. In 2006, Miriam Shear, an American Jewish woman, claims she was attacked by a group of ultra-Orthodox men after refusing to move to the back of the bus on a non-segregated line. Critics have likened the “mehadrin” lines to racial segregation in the United States, with Shear compared to African American icon Rosa Parks. In July 2004, American-Israeli novelist Naomi Ragen was insulted and threatened because she refused to give up her seat and move to the back of the bus.
Vigilante "modesty patrols" have harassed women perceived as immodestly dressed in Haredi neighborhoods. In 2010, police arrested two Haredi men at the Western Wall plaza on suspicion that they threw chairs at a Women of the Wall group that was praying aloud at the site.
On September 28, 2010, the Israeli Supreme Court outlawed public gender segregation in Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighborhood in response to a petition submitted after extremist Haredi men physically and verbally assaulted women for walking on a designated men's only road.
Crime against women 
Rape, including spousal rape, is a felony in Israel, punishable by 16 years in prison. The law doubles the penalty if the perpetrator assaults or rapes a relative.
There are nine rape crisis centers that are operating a 24 hours crisis line to women who have been victims to sexual violence. These are independent non-governmental women's groups who understand rape as a manifestation of women's equality. Their fight to end rape and other forms of male violence is anchored in the fight for women's liberation.
The law prohibits violence against women, but domestic violence against women is a problem. The Israeli Ministry of Social Affairs operates a battered women's shelter and an abuse reporting hotline. The police operates a call center to inform victims about their cases. Women's organizations provided counseling, crisis intervention, legal assistance, and shelters.
The indictment and conviction of former president Moshe Katsav for two counts of rape and other charges was widely interpreted as a victory for women. Rape crisis centers received record number of calls following the verdict.
Sexual harassment is illegal but remains widespread. The law requires that suspected victims be informed of their right to assistance. Penalties for sexual harassment depend on the severity of the act and whether blackmail is involved; range from two to nine years' imprisonment.
The 1998 Israeli Sexual Harassment Law interprets sexual harassment broadly, and prohibits the behavior as a discriminatory practice, a restriction of liberty, an offence to human dignity, a violation of every person's right to elementary respect, and an infringement of the right to privacy. Additionally, the law prohibits intimidation or retaliation that accommodates sexual harassment. Intimidation or retaliation thus related to sexual harassment are defined by the law as "prejudicial treatment".
According to a survey by the Ministry of Industry published in 2010, 35 to 40 percent of women reported experiencing sexual harassment at work, one-third of whom experienced it in the previous 12 months. Among the women who reported harassment, 69 percent said they had received "proposals," 47 percent reported comments of a sexual nature, 22 percent cited physical violation, 10 percent reported humiliation, and 7.7 percent reported extortion and threats.
Israel, in accordance with Western ethics, has made polygamy illegal. Provisions were instituted to allow for existing polygamous families immigrating from countries where the practice was legal.
Women's health 
As of 2008[update], the maternal mortality rate in the country was 7 per 100,000 births, one of the lowest in the world. Women and men were given equal access to diagnostic services and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.
Women in the workforce and education 
An IMD survey published in 2012 ranked Israel in eleventh place out of 59 developed nations for participation of women in the workplace. In the same survey, Israel was ranked 24th for the proportion of women serving in executive positions. Israeli law prohibits discrimination based on gender in employment and wages and provides for class action suits; nonetheless, there are complaints of significant wage disparities between men and women.
The government enacted a number of programs to improve the status of women in the work place and society. The Authority for the Advancement of the Status of Women in the Prime Minister's Office grants scholarships for higher education for Druze, Bedouin, and Circassian female students in the country north. The authority holds professional training courses in Arab, Druze, and Circassian localities.
Women's organizations 
Na'amat (Hebrew: נעמת) is the largest Israeli women's organization, founded in 1921. It has a membership of 800,000 women, (Jews, Arabs, Druze and Circassians) representing the entire spectrum of Israeli society. The organization has 100 branches in cities, towns and settlements all over the country. It also has sister organizations in other countries whose members are part of the World Labour Zionist Movement and the World Zionist Organization. The Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel is a leading organisation in fighting violence against women.
Notable women 
Golda Meir, Israel's first and the world's third woman to hold the office of head of state
Bar Refaeli is an Israeli top model.
Shahar Pe'er is an Israeli professional tennis player, with the highest ever ranking for an Israeli singles tennis player, World No. 11.
See also 
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Women of Israel|
- Israel women's national football team
- Women's Party (Israel)
- Women for Israel's Tomorrow
- Israel women's national volleyball team
- Women in Judaism
- "Human Development Report". United Nations Development Programme. 2013. p. 156.
- "The Global Gender Gap Report 2012". World Economic Forum. pp. 10–11.
- 2010 Human Rights Report: Israel and the occupied territories. U.S. Department of state. This article incorporates public domain material from this source.
- Graetz, Naomi (1998). "Judaism Confronts Wife Beating". Women in Judaism. Retrieved 27 January 2012.
- "Even China has more female politicians than Israel". Haaretz. 26 August 2002.
- "Ask the Rabbi: Queen for a day". The Jerusalem Post. 28 November 2008.
- Women In Israel Jewish Virtual Library
- Women in Public Life Jewish Virtual Library
- Current Female Knesset Members Knesset website
- Judicial Power and National Politics: Courts and Gender in the Religious-Secular Conflict in Israel, Patricia Woods, SUNY Press, 2008
- "Statistics: Women’s Service in the IDF for 2010, 25 Aug 2010". Israel Defense Forces. 25 August 2010. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
- Lauren Gelfond Feldinger (September 21, 2008). "Skirting history". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2011-03-22.
- "Integration of women in the IDF". Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 8 March 2009. Retrieved 23 March 2011.
- "Women in the IDF". Israel Defense Forces. 7 March 2011. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
- "60 Years of Women’s Service in the IDF". Israel Defense Forces. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
- "More female officers in more positions in the IDF" (Press release). IDF spokesperson. 30 November 2011. Retrieved 8 December 2011.
- "First woman pilot in Israeli Air Force dies". The Jewish news weekly of Northern California. June 2, 2006. Retrieved 2010-06-10.
- Yuval Azoulay (November 28, 2007). "Israel Air Force appoints first female deputy squadron commander". Haaretz.com. Retrieved 2010-06-10.
- Greenberg, Hanan (26 May 2011). "IDF names first female major general". Yediot Ahronot.
- "Israeli Army Celebrates First Female Major General". IDF Spokesperson's Blog. IDF Spokesperson. 23 June 2011. Retrieved 4 July 2011.
- Amos Harel (2009-06-09). "IDF: Religious soldiers can't walk out on women singing". Haaretz. Retrieved 2011-12-31.
- Amos Harel (2011-09-14). "IDF: Soldiers cannot skip ceremonies with women singing". Haaretz. Retrieved 2011-12-31.
- Yair Ettinger (2011-11-17). "Top settler rabbi: Soldiers will sooner choose death than suffer women's singing". Haaretz. Retrieved 2011-12-31.
- Katya Alder (24 April 2007). "Israel's 'modesty buses' draw fire". BBC News.
- "Excluded, For God’s Sake: Gender Segregation in Public Space in Israel".
- "Divide and Rule". Text "Haaretz" ignored (help); Text "November 5, 2010" ignored (help)
- "Court: No sex segregation in Mea Shearim". Text " Ynet" ignored (help); Text " October 17, 2011" ignored (help)
- Berman, Daphna (December 17, 2006). "Woman beaten on J'lem bus for refusing to move to rear seat". Haaretz. Retrieved 2011-03-08.
- Forman, David (January 21, 2007). "Destination: Montgomery, 1955". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2011-03-08.
- Yoaz, Yuval (January 14, 2008). "Court to hear petition against segregation of sexes on buses. Orthodox novelist Naomi Ragen says was bullied into giving up seat, state claims arrangement is voluntary". Haaretz. Retrieved 2011-03-09.
- Izenberg, Dan; Mandel, Jonah (January 6, 2011). "Court scraps ‘mehadrin’ buses". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2011-03-08.
- חדשות 2 - קלינטון מזועזעת: נשים במושב האחורי באוטובוס?
- Zvi Zrahiya, Jonathan Lis, Dana Weiler-Polak, Yuval Azoulay (2009-03-09). "Katsav mum, women's groups welcome rape indictment". Haaretz. Retrieved 2011-12-31.
- Dana Weiler-Polak (2011-11-21). "Israeli rape crisis centers get record number of calls following Katsav verdict". Haaretz. Retrieved 2011-12-31.
- Kamir, 2005
- Eglash, Ruth (2008-10-30). "Israel 2008: State of Polygamy". Fr.jpost.com. Retrieved 2011-09-13.
- Aburabia, Sarab. "Victims of polygamy". Haaretz.com. Retrieved 2011-09-13.
- Polygamy's Practice Stirs Debate in Israel
- Lior, Gad (7 March 2012). "Israel ranks 24th in number of women executives". Ynetnews. Retrieved 9 March 2012.
- This is Na'amat, quoted at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/research/publications/index_e.htm?docid=195&cid=0&sec=APP02
Further reading 
- Aguilar, Grace. The Women of Israel, Volume 1, D. Appleton & Co., 1851
- Eglash, Ruth. Status of Israeli women improves little over decade, March 7, 2010
- Sexes: The Women of Israel, February 20, 1978