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Women and Knesset Elections

According to a report published by the Knesset Research and Information Center, Israel ranks 83rd out of the 189 members of the Inter-Parliamentary Union with regard to women’s representation in the legislature, and 27th out of the 36 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The proportion of women running for Knesset rose from 15 to 30 percent between the 16th and the 23rd Knessets, but the proportion of women placed high enough on the ticket to have a realistic chance of getting in rose only from 14 to 24 percent. Women have not been allowed to run on the tickets of the ultra-Orthodox Shas and United Torah Judaism parties.

The 23rd Knesset is the first since the 18th, elected in 2009, in which no party is led by a woman. It has 30 female MKs, 25 percent of the total. The highest number, 37, served in the 20th Knesset (2015-19). Only 29 were elected that year, but, as in some previous Knessets, women replaced male MKs who resigned.

Dalia Itzik is the only woman who ever served as Knesset speaker –in the 17th Knesset (2006-09). Also, three committees have never been chaired by a female – the Finance Committee, the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee. Women have accounted for almost a third of all chairs of the Education, Culture and Sports Committee, 40 percent of all chairs of the Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee, and every chair of the Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality has been a woman except for a brief period in the 17th Knesset when it was led by Gideon Sa’ar.

Source: Lee Yaron, “On International Women’s Day, a Look at Female Representation in Israel’s Parliament,” Haaretz, (March 8, 2020)