Less than 2 percent of mayors and 11% of city council members are female – two statistics that WePower, an NGO seeking to promote women's leadership in all areas of society, hopes to change in a campaign launched ahead of October's municipal elections.
Out of Israel's 256 local authorities, only five are led by women, and one third of all local councils have do not have any women on them. WePower's campaign supports female candidates, and hopes that soon there will be 30 female mayors and 1000 female council members, as opposed to the current 376.
"It cannot be that there is no female presence in the places where important decisions about our everyday lives are made," WePower Executive Directory Yifat Zamir said Thursday. "These decisions have to be made while women's needs are not considered at all."
According to Zamir, tremendous human capital, which can greatly contribute to local authorities, goes to waste when women aren't elected to office.
"This is the time for the public and for women running to make a change. It will be no less than revolutionary," Zamir added.
Zamir pointed out that progress has already been made, with Interior Minister Gideon Sa'ar calling in a July meeting of the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women for citizens not to vote for parties that do not put women in realistic positions on their lists for city council.
WePower credited its educational programming as encouraging women to be more active in local politics, saying that women who are on the boards of their schools and participate in other public committees are no longer afraid to strive to reach the top of the pyramid and run for mayor.
The NGO is working with 40 women who are running for mayor or head of a local or regional council.
One of those women is Kinneret Arnon, a haredi woman and the first female candidate for mayor of Kiryat Arba.
Nurit Avner was a city councilwoman in Ramat Hasharon. She was removed from her party's list by Mayor Yitzhak Rochberger without being notified, and now she is challenging him for mayor.
Shoshi Kahlon Kidor, the first female colonel in the IDF, is now running for Mayor of Kfar Yona, after a 25-year military career.
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