Law to boost female representation in municipalities passes

“Women are 51% of the population, but only 12% of those elected to local authorities,” says bill's co-sponsor MK Aliza Lavie of Yesh Atid.

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June 24, 2014 04:18
2 minute read.
Knesset

The Knesset. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

 
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A measure rewarding municipal parties with women on their lists became law Monday night, with 57 in favor and 14 against it, despite outspoken haredi opposition.

The bill, proposed by MKs Haneen Zoabi (Balad), Yifat Kariv (Yesh Atid) and Knesset Committee for the Advancement of the Status of Women chairwoman Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid), gives an additional 15 percent in campaign funding to municipal party lists that are at least one-third female. That benefit would only be given eight months after the election, so parties can’t just put women on their lists for the extra money and make the women quit after the vote.

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“Women are 51% of the population, but they’re only 12% of those elected to local authorities,” Lavie said. “Only five of 255 local authority heads are women.”

MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ) asked Yesh Atid why only one of its five ministers is female and why, if feminism is so important to the party, so many lawmakers didn’t vote for a woman president two weeks ago.

“Until now, we knew that a woman was elected to the Knesset or a local authority because of her talents and abilities. After this law passes, every woman on a municipal council will be suspected of being elected not because she is suitable for the job, but because the party’s accountant put her there to fill the coffers,” Gafni said.

MK Uri Maklev (UTJ) warned that the law is “a slippery slope before banning lists without women from running in elections.

“The real purpose is not to integrate women but to hurt haredi parties,” Maklev said.

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MK Yisrael Eichler (UTJ) pointed out that many of the people who want Zoabi out of the Knesset because of her statement that the kidnappers of three boys in Gush Etzion earlier this month were not terrorists are now supporting her bill.

“You are playing with fire when you change the rules of democracy,” Eichler said. “People will go out in to the streets, and this will be like Iraq! Not [because of haredim], but [because] Arabs and settlers have enough guns.”

Kariv said “appropriate female representation in municipalities is not only moral, it will improve the level of public service in Israel, because the municipality is the form of government closest to the citizen.”

“This law is simple:...women have the same abilities and talents but not the same opportunities as men,” Zoabi said.

“It won’t solve all the problems of an unfair playing field between men and women; we have a lot of work.”

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