There are currently only six female mayors in Israel, according to a report published this week by Dun & Bradstreet Israel.
Ahead of International Women's Day 2019, which takes place on March 8, the company – which provides business information solutions for managing business risks and opportunities – took a critical look at equality within the country’s municipalities. It found that while the percentage of women mayors doubled from six to three, and the percentage of women in municipal councils increased to 20% from 16%, “there is still no equal representation of women and men,” said Efrat Segev, vice president of business development for Dan & Bradstreet Israel.
The survey looked at 77 cities, of which only six have female mayors: Haifa, Netanya, Beit Shemesh, Or Yehuda, Yehud and Kfar Yona.
By percentage, Hod Hasharon's city council has the highest female representation at 50%. Ma’aleh Adumim comes in second at 42% and Beersheba is next with 37% of its city council being women.
Petah Tikva, which last year was at the bottom of the list with only 11% female representation, doubled this year and representation of women in the council rose to 21%.Municipal elections took place last October.
There are still some municipalities with no female representation. These include Umm al-Fahm, Betar Illit, Bnei Brak, Modi'in Illit, Rahat, El’ad, Baqa al-Gharbiyye, Taiba, Tira, Sakhnin, Qalansawe and Shefa-'Amr.
"The equal presence of women around the decision-making table is critical to the proper and professional management of our local authorities,” said Segev. “This is especially evident in city councils. Any decision regarding the standard of living and the quality of life in the city is relevant to all its residents and therefore diversity of opinions and expression is even more important.”
Ahead of last year’s International Women’s Day, the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) revealed data on the participation of women in Israel's political arena. Their report showed that in the past two decades, the number of Knesset members who are women has almost quadrupled, rising from nine to 34 female parliamentarians and bringing Israel in line with the OECD average (28%).
Furthermore, IDI showed that female MKs have proven to be more productive legislators: they had a 37% higher success rate of having their bills passed into law in Israel's 20th Knesset (2013-2018), than their male counterparts.
Looking at the lists running for the 21st Knesset, however, it appears as if Israel will take a step backward and likely decrease its female representation in the parliament.
Last month, the merged list of the Yesh Atid and Israel Resilience parties – now known as the Blue and White Party – came under scrutiny when it announced it contains just two women in its top 10.
Before the parties merged, women were more prominent on both party lists. The top 10 of the Yesh Atid list contained four women. And the top 10 of the Resilience Party contained three.
Likud also has only two women in its top 10 spots, and just three in the first 20 spots on its list.
Amy Spiro contributed to this article.