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Women in Israel: Report on the Status of Women in Israel


A report on the status of women in Israel in 2004 presented recently by the Israel Women's Network to the Knesset Committee for the Advancement of the Status of Women indicates that Israeli women have the highest average number of children in the Western world. The Israeli average is 2.89 compared to 2.5 in Turkey and 2 in the U.S.

Women represent 50.7% of Israel's population, meaning that for every 100 men there are 103 women, whereas in the world at large there are 99 women for every 100 men. One of the reasons that women outnumber men in Israel is that they live longer. The average life span for women is 81.2 years compared to 77.3 years for men.

The average marrying age for Jewish women is 24.5, and for Muslim women 20.5. In Europe the average marrying age for women is 27.

Of mothers in Israel, some 97,000 are single parents, and 64% of them are Jewish. Single mothers head 10% of families in Israel compared to 17% in other Western countries.

Approximately 22% of Israel's women have 13-15 years of formal education compared to 20% of men, but conversely 4.5% of women have no schooling compared to 1.8% of men.

Of the current crop of high school students, 74% of the girls and 65% of the boys are candidates for bagrut.

The female ratio of students is also high in institutions of higher learning with an overall average of 55.9%. Israel ranks seventh in the Western world with regard to the percentage of women who are studying in higher education facilities.

Women comprise:

  • 81% of students in teaching courses;
  • 79.3% in nursing and other forms of medical assistance;
  • 23.5% of students in courses such as engineering and architecture;
  • 31.4% of students studying mathematics, statistics and computer sciences; and
  • 24% of university faculty; and
  • 49% of Israel's work force.

Since the establishment of the state the ratio of unemployment among females has always been higher than that of males. In 2003, 11.3% of women who wanted to work were unemployed compared to 10.2% of men.

Women are less inclined to be self-employed than men — 91.4% of working women are salaried employees compared to 82.4% of men. Only 4.4% of salaried women are in executive roles, compared to 11.6% of men. Men also earn more in monthly salaries and more in jobs paid by an hourly rate.

Of 121 countries in which women are included in the legislature, Israel, despite having once been led by a woman prime minister, ranks 66th. Women comprise only 15% of Israel's 120-member Knesset, placing Israel somewhere between the Arab world and developing countries in its attitude to female politicians. The female ratio among Scandinavian legislators is 40% and rising. Among the member states of the European Union, the average is 17.6%. In Arab countries it is 6.4%.

Under the current Israeli administration there has been an increase in the number of women ministers from 11% to 13%, but the ratio dropped again with the resignation of Environment Minister Yehudit Naot, whose battle with cancer precluded her from continuing in office.

Only ten women have served in Israel's governments since the creation of the state. They include Golda Meir, Shoshana Arbeli Almoslino, Shulamit Aloni, Sara Doron, Ora Namir, Limor Livnat, Dalia Itzik, Yuli Tamir, Tzippy Livni and Yehudit Naot.

The ratio of women in the local councils of Even Yehuda and Omer is 44.4%. Ra'anana comes next with 36.8%, Kochav Yair with 36% and Ramat Hasharon 35.6%. Of the larger municipalities, Tel Aviv-Jaffa is in the lead, with women comprising 35.5% of the city council.

Only nine women have served as mayors. Today there are two heading city councils – Yael German in Herzliya and Miriam Fierberg in Netanya. In addition, Daniella Weiss heads the Kedumim local council, and Ora Hacham, Yael Shaltieli and Lilach Morgan respectively head the regional councils of Effal, the Beit She'an Valley and the Central Arava.

Sources: Jerusalem Post, (November 19, 2004)